by Melissa Gomez, Los Angeles Times
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are splitting support from Latinos in Arizona and Florida, where voters will decide between the two in Democratic primaries next week, a recent poll found.
In Arizona, Sanders leads Biden by 47% to 40% among Latinos who say they’re likely to vote in the party primary on Tuesday. In Florida, which votes the same day, the former vice president is up over Sanders 48% to 37%, according to a poll released Wednesday and conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy for Telemundo.
“[Latinos] are certainly not a monolithic vote, and that is on full display in Florida,” Fernand Amandi, a Democratic strategist in Miami, said.
Sanders has done well with Latino voters in states including California and Nevada, but Florida — where Latinos make up a fifth of the state’s electorate — presents a problem for the self-described democratic socialist. The state has a sizable Puerto Rican community, with which he polls well, but it also is home to the largest number of Cuban Americans in the country, and they broadly reject socialism and generally support President Trump.
Amandi noted that many Latinos in Florida, including Cubans and Venezuelans, escaped socialist or communist governments. Some 70% of all Latino voters in the state surveyed said they wouldn’t cast a ballot for a candidate who describes himself as a socialist.
In Arizona, most Latinos are of Mexican ancestry and the electorate leans Democratic. Latino voters in the state prefer both Democratic candidates over Trump — with Sanders beating the president 68% to 23% in a one-on-one matchup, and Biden beating him 72% to 20%.
The poll was conducted after the primary elections on March 3, during which Biden captured 10 of the 14 states up for grabs.
In a head-to-head matchup against the president, Latino voters in Florida prefer Trump over Sanders by 45% to 44%, a number that is within the poll’s margin of error. Biden fared better, beating Trump with those voters surveyed by 58% to 38%. Cuban American voters in Florida strongly prefer Trump to either Democratic candidate: The president beats Sanders 74% to 19% and Biden 70% to 27% among those surveyed.
Healthcare is the top concern for Latinos in both states, the poll found, but in Florida, the coronavirus is a close second.
The Telemundo poll surveyed 800 likely Democratic Latino voters in both states March 4-6 for questions about the primary election, and 1,250 Latino voters for questions about the general election. It has a 5% and 4% plus or minus margin for error, respectively.
Melissa Gomez is a reporter covering the 2020 presidential campaign for Los Angeles Times