Latino poll: Biden and Sanders are favorites, racism a concern

In a new poll, combating Trump's agenda and racism are in a statistical tie with concerns over health care, wages and immigrant rights.
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Democratic presidential candidates former vice president Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wave before the start of a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on June 27, 2019, in Miami.Brynn Anderson / AP

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By Stephen Nuño-Pérez

Seventy-three percent of Latinos across the United States plan to vote or are leaning toward voting for a Democrat in the 2020 presidential election, according to the results of a national poll released by Univision this week.

The results come as 10 Democratic candidates prepared to debate in Houston on Thursday night, with the political preferences of Latinos taking center stage in a state that some political experts say is becoming increasingly competitive.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Julían Castro, the former housing secretary and mayor of San Antonio, are the top three picks among Latinos registered to vote nationally. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kamala Harris of California and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso are close behind.

Among Latinos surveyed, 22 percent said they are planning to vote for Biden, with 20 percent saying they plan to vote for Sanders.

The poll was conducted by the polling firm Latino Decisions on behalf of Univision News, and surveyed 1,043 registered Latino voters nationally. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Latinos are on track to be the largest nonwhite voting group in the country in the 2020 election, and in 2018 Latino voters not only increased their numbers but also their turnout rate nationally.

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"In 2018, we saw one of the most significant gains in registration and turnout," said Matt Barretto, a principal at Latino Decisions. "So I believe we have really turned a corner through a combination of the levels of anger ... as well as the increased mobilization that parties and candidates are now doing. So I do believe you will see a very robust and high turnout in 2020."

In a June poll, Sanders and Biden were leading among Latinos, but the new poll shows some movement by Castro and Warren. Barreto said the numbers reflect responsiveness among Hispanics to the national environment, with Castro having "a good couple of months" since the first debate in Miami in June and Warren's numbers increasing in national polls.

In an oversample of Latinos in Texas, O’Rourke of El Paso is the top candidate with 26 percent saying they plan to vote for him, and 19 percent saying they plan to vote for Biden. They're followed by Castro at 13 percent.

The Univision poll asks several questions about racism, violence and white supremacy in the wake of the mass shooting at the Walmart in El Paso last month, where immigrants and Mexicans were targeted by the shooter.

Respondents in the survey were asked if they agreed with the statement that "the El Paso shooter was a racist who was influenced by anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican statements made by Trump" or if "the El Paso shooter was a lone individual who was a racist and he was not influenced by statements made by the President."

Nationally, 69 percent of Latinos said the shooter was influenced by the president’s anti-immigrant statements, while 71 percent of Latinos in Texas agreed with that statement, as well.

Barreto said in a conference call with the media Tuesday that because of the anti-immigrant language of the president and the mass shooting in El Paso, Hispanics were paying more attention to the president’s agenda.

In a similar poll conducted by Latino Decisions in June, Barreto said that stopping Trump and combating racism were distant concerns compared to health care, wages, and immigrant rights.

However, in this new poll, combating the president’s agenda and combating racism are now at a statistical tie with those other priorities.

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