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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Biden’s Latino Outreach in High Gear

Marc Caputo reports that “Biden makes sharp pivot toward Latino vote” at Politico, including “hiring a rash of Hispanic operatives, spending $1 million in Spanish-language outreach and, this week, signing one of the nation’s top pollsters in the field, Latino Decisions.” The rationale for the Democrat’s likely nominee includes:

A raft of recent general election polls shows Biden with a solid lead nationwide and in many battleground states. He’s already leading among Hispanic voters. But if Biden can get the same level of support and turnout as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 — while continuing to do better than she did among black and white voters — he’s all but guaranteed to win the crucial battlegrounds of Florida and Arizona, which would effectively deny President Trump a second term.

Caputo adds that Trump has a problematic record on issues of intense concern among Latinos, including “immigration, Puerto Rico, healthcare, coronavirus response and foreign policy” and “Democrats learned from Florida’s last election that failing to aggressively reach out to Latino voters cost them the governor’s office and the retention of a U.S. Senate seat.”

Caputo quotes Latino Decisions co-founder and pollster Matt Barreto, who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign: “In 2018, some of the statewide campaigns in Florida did not have robust Latino engagement…Puerto Rican turnout in Central Florida was not robust.” Further, Caputo writes,

Biden’s campaign plans to harness the “incredible anger” among Puerto Rican voters in Florida over Trump’s handling of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Barreto says. And it sees an opening to increase support levels in border-state Arizona, where Latinos have “been deeply influenced by the immigrant rights movement, especially younger Latinos, and that is very bad news for Donald Trump. Already, 2018 demonstrated that heightened Latino turnout can flip the state, and with continued investment in Latino outreach, 2020 could follow the same path as 2018.”

The campaign, he said, is ready to “pivot in South Florida and have different messages on the diversity of the community there, whether you’re talking to the Cubans who were born in Cuba or born in the United States, South Americans … and engaging Latinos where they are and the issues that matters to them.”

Caputo notes that Biden has bulked up his outreach staff with media and GOTV pros, who have expertise in mobilizing Latino voters of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican and Central American heritage with nuanced messaging. Among the reasons thaat Biden’s expanded Latino outreach comes as a welcome, if overdue development, according to Caputo:

Trump has a cash advantage and he has been using it on TV — the president’s reelection campaign has spent nearly $1.2 million on Spanish-language TV ads in Arizona and Florida in the past three weeks, according to the Advertising Analytics tracking firm, which found that Biden’s campaign has spent less than $100,000 on TV in that time. Including Spanish-language radio spots and digital ads, the Biden campaign said it is on pace to spend $1 million in five weeks. An outside group, Nuestro PAC, is also giving Biden Spanish-language air-support.

While Arizona and Florida are seen as pivotal battleground states where the Latino vote can be decisive, Barreto notes that “North Carolina and Pennsylvania have large and growing Latino populations that could ultimately decide a very close election…Our research in these two states suggest over 70% of Latinos oppose Trump’s divisive rhetoric and see Biden as fighting for Latinos.”

Adrian Carrasquillo reports at Newsweek that A new poll by Voter Participation Center/Voto Latino of battleground states Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas “found that Latino voters continued to demonstrate lower enthusiasm for Biden’s candidacy, with a “somewhat low rate” of 59 percent of Latinos who said they intend to vote, compared with 73 percent of Latino registered voters who said they were certain to vote in February. Only 46 percent of Latino voters under 30 said they plan to vote, a figure that Kumar said jumped out.”

Conversely, a robust turnout of diverse Latino communities could, not only improve Biden’s electoral vote tally, but also help Democrats win majorities of the U.S. Senate and state legislatures.

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