BY: Laura Barrón-López
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders are the top choices for Latinos planning to vote in the Democratic presidential primary, according to a newly released Univision poll ahead of Thursday’s debate in Houston.
Biden took 22 percent and Sanders took 20 percent support from Latinos in the poll, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro — the only Latino running for the Democratic nomination — got 12 percent, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris got 11 percent and 8 percent, respectively, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke scored 6 percent. No other candidates scored more than 2 percent with Latinos.
A large majority of Latinos, 73 percent, say they plan to vote for the Democratic nominee in the general election next year, while 16 percent said they plan to vote for President Donald Trump and another 11 percent are undecided. In head-to-head matchups with the president, Biden and Sanders performed marginally better than other Democrats among Latinos, garnering 71 percent support each.
The poll, conducted by Univision Noticias surveyed 1,043 registered Latino voters nationally between Aug. 31 and Sept. 6.
The survey also found 69 percent of Latino voters nationally think Trump’s language in speeches and on Twitter bears a “great deal” or “good amount” of responsibility for the mass shooting in El Paso last month. A similar percentage said they think the El Paso shooter was influenced by the president.
Additionally, 74 percent of Latinos believe white supremacist groups present a threat to the country, and 92 percent of those surveyed support Congress passing expanded background checks for all gun sales and transfers.
Latinos are on track to be the largest nonwhite ethnic group eligible to vote in 2020, and they are an especially critical demographic in the early Nevada caucuses, as well as delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like California and Texas.
Biden’s campaign has focused on Latino voters of late, after taking heat for lack of outreach to Latinos and for saying undocumented immigrants need to “get in line” during the second debate. Biden recently hired a Latinx outreach director, Laura Jiménez. On Tuesday, Biden unveiled a slate of endorsements from past and present Texas officials, including former Democratic Rep. Gene Green, an Anglo congressman who represented a majority-Latino Houston district for years.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, a Biden surrogate who served as secretary of labor in the Obama administration, sat down with Latino leaders in Nevada two weeks ago and was pressed on how a Biden presidency would be different than the last Democratic administration on immigration and deportations, according to a person in the meeting.
In addition to the national survey of Latinos, Univision and its polling partners also conducted a statewide poll of Texas including all racial groups, showcasing the fast-shifting political landscape there and suggesting the state’s 2020 Senate race could be competitive.
The survey showed Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn in a tight race with a generic Democratic opponent, taking 41 percent support to 40 percent for the Democrat. The same poll showed a generic Democrat leading Trump in Texas, 47 percent to 42 percent — a more negative result than other recent polls of Texas.
Among Democrats of all races in Texas, Biden got 20 percent support, O’Rourke got 19 percent, Sanders got 13 percent and Castro and Warren scored 12 percent each.