Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Among Latino voters, the biggest threat to Joe Biden is not Donald Trump: Among swing-state Latinos, Biden actually leads Trump

Fascinating analysis by Maria Teresa Kumar who leads an important national organization named Voto Latino (or Latino Vote). The growth of the Latino population means that their share of the vote has also increased. Based on the organization's polling data conducted by Greenberg, Quinlan Rosner, which delves more deeply into attitudes held by Latinos than most polls, they find that the biggest threat is not actually Trump at all, but "RFK," or Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. instead. This is a clear departure from the usual "Biden v. Trump" framing that the press obsesses on.

A motivator is that the Latino community hasn't shared in the prosperity that some have experienced in the Biden years, on the one hand, and the presence of a real frustration with establishment politics and policies that exclude them, on the other.

Texas, for example, is experienced by Latinos as oppressive both in terms of politics and policy, as any quick reading of my blog will suggest. While it is clear to me that state-level leadership wants to keep us from having political power, what is compelling to me from where I sit is that today more than ever, our large, youthful, and highly diverse Black and Brown community is more highly involved in legislative matters and politics than I have ever witnessed in my 25-plus years as a legislative and policy analyst and advocate.

This matches trends in other states as you can read from this post.

Added to this is Pew Research Center data that indicate a whopping 36 million Latino voters who will be eligible to cast their vote in the 2024 general election, representing 4 million new eligible voters since 2020.

Our Black and Brown populations will thusly have a decisive impact on the 2024 general election. However, for them, the idea isn't just to weather or survive a new administration, but rather to thrive, by having increased access to building resource capacity and wealth creation—not just for themselves but for their communities and future generations.

I appreciate any focus on the development of civic power and the idea of educating the vote as outlined herein. As difficult as things are right now in state-level politics, I am very hopeful.

-Angela Valenzuela

Among Latino voters, the biggest threat to Joe Biden is not Donald Trump

When our poll includes third-party candidates, however, we find that the president should stop ignoring RFK Jr. and start showing who he really is.

Maria Teresa Kumar
Opinion contributor

As President Joe Biden gears up for a tough reelection fight, a narrative has taken hold that former President Donald Trump is ascendant among voters of color.

As co-founder and president of the largest organization promoting Latino civic participation, I’ve long argued that this storyline cherry-picks facts and ignores others. Stories are often written based on polling crosstabs, the microgroups within a polling sample that are rarely a reliable sample size. A poll that surveys 1,000 American voters, for example, might include a crosstab of Latino voters that number 100 people or fewer.

To gain greater insight into the dynamics of the 2024 election, Voto Latino commissioned the respected national polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner to poll 2,000 likely Latino voters to dive deeply on their feelings and preferences heading into the presidential election. The results completely challenge the conventional wisdom.

Among swing-state Latinos, Biden actually leads Trump

The good news for the president: In a head-to-head matchup, Biden's leading Trump among swing-state Latinos by a robust 59% to 39%. This is within striking distance of his 2020 election results.

Considering how quickly the Latino population and vote share are growing, approximating his 2020 numbers would significantly boost Biden’s raw vote totals in key states.

But these numbers don’t tell the whole story. When our survey expands the field to include third-party candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein, Biden’s support among Latino voters plummets to just 47%, with Trump falling slightly to 34% and Kennedy taking 12%.

'No spoilers'?RFK Jr. wants Biden to drop out of the presidential race. He's delusional.

These voters moving from Biden to Kennedy are precisely those who will decide the outcome of the 2024 election. They are no fans of Trump, but they view their personal financial circumstances as abysmal.

This leaves them extremely open-minded about supporting alternatives, especially Kennedy.

Make sure Latinos see Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for who he really is

Most prognosticators suggest that 2024 will be a pure turnout election. Both campaigns are approaching the race as if there are few truly undecided voters between Biden and Trump, so the winner will be whoever best turns out his base.

However, our poll reveals a key reality for the Biden campaign: For all-important Latino swing-state voters, this will be a persuasion election after all – between Biden and Kennedy.

Historically, most third-party candidates lose support over time. When Election Day is still an abstraction, voters are more willing to register a protest vote. But when the outcome becomes more tangible, voters typically end up choosing between the two major party candidates – even if it means choosing the one they perceive as the lesser of two evils.

Conservatives can choose better:Trump's a horrible choice for the Republican Party's presumptive nominee

Our poll suggests that the Biden campaign cannot count on this historical pattern bringing Kennedy supporters back into the fold. These Latino voters skew young and progressive: We found that 59% of third-party voters are between 18 and 39, which is critical.

Latinos trend far younger than the overall U.S. population, so voting trends among this group play an outsized role.

The risk isn’t that they start trending more conservative; it’s that they opt out of the two-party system entirely. This is not a potential protest vote akin to choosing “none of the above” out of frustration. It’s an emphatic cry for a changing of the guard, born out of a belief that only a third party can break a system they see as stacked against them.

If the Biden campaign assumes Latino voters will return to the traditional Democratic coalition, he will lose. The Latino swing voters who are expressing support for Kennedy are squarely outside the tent, and it’s going to take real work to bring them back in. There are signs that this work is underway. It needs to accelerate.

Even so, there is a clear path. While we intend to dive deeper into how Latino voters perceive Kennedy, the topline is that he benefits from being vaguely seen as both a Democrat and an outsider. The Kennedy brand is powerful in the Latino community: It stands for social activism and economic progress.

Knowing little about his actual policy positions, Latinos can squint and imagine him as the progressive working-class champion they want Biden to be.

Kennedy has the unique advantage of being a highly undefined product wrapped in a blue-chip brand. But that edge can be erased if the Biden campaign stops ignoring him and starts defining him.

That’s what Voto Latino intends to do. Our polling makes it clear that Latinos continue to be repelled by Trump. Yes, we will continue to remind our community just how catastrophic his return to power would be.

At the same time, we’ll be shifting our resources to ensure Latinos see Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for who he really is: no champion of social justice and no friend to working people.

Maria Teresa Kumar is the co-founder and president of Voto Latino.

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