Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have a growing Hispanic vote problem, but don’t take my word for it.
The tagline of Biden’s latest Spanish-language ad blitz is #RompeConTrump (Break-up with Trump). The new spots feature break-up songs by singers Alejandro Fernandez and Bad Bunny encouraging Hispanic voters to abandon President Donald Trump. “I used to like you but not anymore,” says the Florida ad — not exactly what you’d expect to hear from a confident campaign. This aligns with new Florida polling, which shows the former vice president down among Latino voters.
Polls: Biden’s Hispanic Support Is Lagging
Public polling can be flawed, but I suspect my colleagues on the other side of the aisle see in the data the same thing Republicans do: Trump is outperforming his 2016 share of the Hispanic vote while the Latino unemployment rate is dropping.
In 2016, then-candidate Trump won 28 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to exit polls. Now, recent surveys by Pew and Emerson College show the president nationally at 35 percent and 37 percent, respectively, among Hispanics. Either one would be the highest Hispanic vote total for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004.
A similar pattern has emerged in states with large Hispanic populations. In Florida, a survey by Democratic polling firm Equis Research found Biden running 11 points behind Hillary Clinton’s Hispanic vote margin over Trump in a state that she lost. According to a new NBC/Marist poll released this week, among Latino voters, Trump is leading in the Sunshine State with 50 percent compared to Biden’s 46.
A recent Rice University and Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation poll found Biden trailing Clinton’s Hispanic vote margin over Trump by a whopping 18 points. Meanwhile, a new Bendixen & Amandi poll found Trump crushing Biden by 38 points among Cuban Americans, which had been previously trending Democratic.
A Regression to the Mean or Something More?
GOP presidential candidates have averaged 31 percent of the Hispanic vote since 1980, placing Trump’s current public polling levels right above the historical mean. The president’s performance is even more noteworthy in the context of Democrats and Spanish-language media routinely using immigration policy as a cudgel against conservatives.
Several factors drive the right’s growing success with Hispanic voters. First, Latinos recognize the president is a strong leader whose policies delivered record-low unemployment and poverty levels for our communities before the global pandemic.
The campaigns also have distinctly different approaches. While Democrats leverage celebrity endorsements to appeal to Hispanics, conservatives have developed a robust Latinos for Trump coalition that builds genuine relationships with grassroots, business, and religious leaders across the country. Deeper demographic, political, and cultural trends also point to the president’s gains being more than a regression to the mean.
An Economic Powerhouse
Certainly, one of the biggest challenges facing Biden is that Hispanics lead the nation in the creation of new small businesses while he and his party are pushing for massive tax increases that would cripple workers and entrepreneurs. DNC Chair Tom Perez has even said that socialists such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are “the future” of his party, setting up both a 2020 and long-term problem for Democrats, as a third of Hispanic entrepreneurs are under 45.
Our economic success also debunks common leftist myths about opportunities in America. If the United States’ 60 million Latinos were our own country, our $2.3 trillion in economic activity would make us the world’s eighth-largest economy and the richest Latin American nation.
Latino entrepreneurs are also concerned about crime in their neighborhoods and are sensitive to the threat it poses to their families and businesses. The nation watched in horror while rioters looted and burned black and Latino-owned businesses this summer, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Hispanic Americans. An Ipsos study found that a majority of Hispanics oppose the left-wing “Defund the Police” movement. According to an August poll by YouGov, a plurality of Hispanics (48 percent) also believe the protests have gone too far. Additionally, Latinos were the group most likely to strongly agree with the statement, “I support protests if they are peaceful, but they lose my support when they become violent.”
Much of Trump’s Policy Agenda Is Popular with Hispanics
There is also a major disconnect between common media narratives that treat Hispanics as monolithic single-issue voters and how Hispanics actually feel about a wide range of issues. The caricatures that liberal reporters and pundits have concocted fail to capture the richness, political sophistication, and diversity of our communities.
GOP operatives often say that Hispanics are natural GOP constituents because we are hard-working, family-centric, and pro-life. This is all true, but we also resist the left’s cultural edicts. Much of the president’s broader policy agenda — yes, including on immigration — is popular with Hispanics. This is a fact that befuddles many political observers, and some refuse even to acknowledge it.
For instance, when the president announced in April that he was temporarily halting immigration to combat the Wuhan coronavirus, a major Spanish-language network anchor blasted the decision as an “attack” against immigrants, but a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll reported that 69 percent of Hispanics nationwide backed the measure. This scenario plays itself out across a variety of issues on a near-daily basis.
No Hablamos Woke
Instead of moving to the center, Democrats are rendering themselves culturally incompatible with Hispanics with their embrace of “cancel culture” and other extreme forms of political correctness. As a 2018 study found, Hispanics were more likely than whites to note that political correctness is a problem in the country. The Spanish-language networks are well aware that Hispanics value tradition and tend to be culturally conservative, which is why they rarely expose their audiences to left-wing extremism on issues such as abortion and the destruction of public monuments.
There is no better example of the Democrats’ cultural incompetence than the insistence of liberals such as Biden and Elizabeth Warren on imposing the atrocious “Latinx” ethnic label on our communities, a term that virtually no one uses and is unpronounceable in Spanish.
Culturally Adroit Engagement
While many of Biden’s Hispanic woes can be attributed to the unpopularity of his policies and deeper problems with the direction of the Democratic Party, there is also much that Trump’s campaign is doing right.
Since the June 2019 Miami launch of our Latinos for Trump coalition, our team has knocked on the doors of millions of Hispanic households across the country, hosted a slew of Latinos for Trump online broadcasts and roundtables at small businesses, and opened black and Hispanic outreach offices in key states.
We also have a top-notch Hispanic communications shop that a leading Hispanic columnist described as being “much stronger” than the Biden campaign’s Hispanic press efforts. This includes Spanish-language ads, bilingual surrogates, and our culturally adroit Equipo Trump Twitter account, which the New Yorker has dubbed a “brazen effort” to court Hispanic voters (¡Gracias!).
President Reagan famously said, “Latinos are Republicans. They just don’t know it yet.” Clearly, there is much work to be done, and we take nothing for granted, but Trump’s campaign — with the Democrats’ help — is showing conservatives how to help Hispanics come to that realization.