Democrat Concerns Grow as Biden Struggles with Florida Hispanics, Poll Finds

Biden faces gowing Democrat Party worries as Hispanic support in Florida slips

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — During her first trip to Florida as Joe Biden’s running mate, Democrat Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris did little last week to court the critical Swing State’s booming and politically influential Latino population. She focused instead on African American leaders and the historically Black Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.
 
“You truly are the future of our country. You are the ones who are going to inspire us and fight for the ideals of our country,” Harris said – after her motorcade had raced past numerous Hispanic neighborhoods and sped through the Cuban stronghold of Hialeah – once a marching band serenaded her ahead of an hour-long discussion with local Black leaders.

As a result of this and other missed opportunities to target the largest minority populution, especially in one of America’s most crucial battleground states, there’s a growing level of anxiety among Democrats that Biden’s standing among Latinos nationally is slipping – and potentially giving President Donald Trump an opening to re-election in November.

The shifting ground in delegate-rich Florida follows months of criticism toward the Biden campaign’s lackluster approach to court the nation's Latino voters.
  While some on Biden’s team privately acknowledge he may not win over Latinos by the same margins as Clinton, they are not conceding defeat. It’s fueling an urgent effort by Biden, Harris and Democrats nationally to shore up older voters, suburbanites, and African-Americans to make up for potential shortcomings among Hispanics.

New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg recently said he was committing $100 million or more to Florida in order to help the Democrat ticket.

While Florida's Hispanic voters tend to be more Republican due to the state’s Cuban-American population aversion to socialism, Democrat allies closest to the Latino community said there are reasons to worry.
Trump handily beat Clinton among Cuban Americans in the state, 54%-41%, according to CNN’s exit poll.
 
“Right now I think the Biden campaign has work to do,” says Javier Fernandez, a Democrat running for the state Senate in Miami-Dade County, where 7 in 10 residents identify as Latino or Hispanic.

“I don’t know that they’re super excited about Joe Biden.”

Even Bernie Sanders, who led among Latinos during the early stages of the Democrat primary, warned on Sunday that Biden should be “reaching out more aggressively to grassroots Latino voters.”

That would require a targeted — and expensive — effort acknowledging the complexities of the Latino vote in Florida. A winning campaign likely requires varied outreach to Cuban Americans, Dominicans and Venezuelans in Miami, along with 1st and 2nd-generation Central American immigrants around the state and displaced Puerto Ricans who settled in central Florida after Hurricane Maria.

Biden's campaign, which local leaders say has been lacking in face-to-face outreach, has responded with ads that feature narrators with different accents, hoping that will appeal to the various and numerous Hispanic subgroups.

Politico reported in May that Latino political operatives felt unclear about the campaign’s strategy for marshaling support from the demographic. In an op-ed for CNBC last month, Voto Latino CEO Maria Teresa Kumar argued that Biden has fallen short on reaching out to the Latino community.

Senior Biden strategist Cristobal Alex said the campaign has been pounding the airwaves with Spanish-language advertising for months – in addition to launching “Latino Leadership Councils” across the country. “As we get closer to November you’re going to see an even greater amount of activity to turn out Latino voters,” Alex said.

Biden’s team has aggressively courted Black men and Black women in recent days as well, featuring virtual events with Harris and celebrities like actor Don Cheadle. “We don’t have to focus on just one pathway, just one set of specific voters. We have the ability to expand the map and the coalition,” said Becca Siegel, Biden’s chief analytics officer.

State Republicans in Florida – as well as the Trump Campaign nationally – are reaching out to the Hispanic Community in spades.

President Trump held a roundtable discussion with Latinos in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, and has another scheduled today in Phoenix, Arizona during a campaign swing through states out west.

“While Joe Biden has failed, I've delivered for Latinos,” Trump told supporters in Las Vegas.

​​​​​​​Biden’s uncertain status with Latinos confounds many Democrats who point to Trump’s repeated anti-immigrant rhetoric and his slow response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico. Two years after images of family separations shocked Americans, the anger is still fresh for some residents of 89th Avenue in Miami’s Westchester neighborhood, a collection of single-story stucco homes just a few blocks from Harris’ recent motorcade route.
 
Ernesto Palacios, a 70-year-old U.S. citizen of Cuban decent, said he voted for Trump in 2016, but won’t do so again. But Palacios said his opposition to Trump does not mean he will vote for Biden.

He described Biden as “soft” and raised concerns about the push from some liberals to defund the police, which Biden does not support.

One of Palacios’ neighbors, Juan Guzmán, fled Fidel Castro’s rule in Cuba at 15. He called Biden “a socialist” and said voting for him was out of the question.

Carlos Odio, a co-founder of the Democratic polling firm Equis Labs, said Biden's backing in the community has remained soft enough that he may lose support by people simply not going to the polls — a trend that could be decisive in states like Florida.

“This is, in so many ways, a mobilization question for Joe Biden,” Odio said. “Folks aren’t necessarily deciding between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but deciding between voting and not voting.”

Other Biden allies in the Latino community are candid about his challenges.

The president of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens,) said recently that Latino voters have responded to Trump’s embrace of religious conservative positions, and his warnings of protest-related violence and socialism.

“You need a message that hyper-excites the Latino Community, such as health care for all, or dealing with immigration in first 100 days. Biden has been really lukewarm on those issues,” Garcia said.

And after pressure from his Democrat primary opponents, Biden eventually was forced to apologized for the high rate of deportations during the Obama-Biden Administration.
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