© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why Democrats will face even more challenges with Latino voters in the coming year

People stand in line for early voting at the John F. Kennedy Library, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Hialeah, Fla.
Lynne Sladky
People stand in line for early voting at the John F. Kennedy Library, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Hialeah, Fla.

A new poll released by FIU shows Biden's support among Latinos nationally has dropped. Eduardo Gamarra of the Latino Public Opinion Forum tells WLRN how these numbers can affect the 2024 presidential election — and how Democrats might regain some of the lost ground.

It’s no secret that the Latino vote matters a lot in Florida and especially South Florida. And it’s no secret that in recent years, the Democratic Party has been losing Latino voters in Florida and even outside Florida. But that trend appears to be getting worse for the Democrats.

President Joe Biden did win Florida’s Latino vote in 2020 — but former President Donald Trump nonetheless captured 46% of that bloc, up from the 35% he got in 2016. Now, according to a poll conducted by Latino nonprofits UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota last month, Trump would defeat Biden among Latino voters in Florida.

Nationally, Biden won 67% of the Latino vote in 2020. But apoll released this month by Florida International University shows his support among Latinos across the country has dropped to just 53%.

READ MORE: GOP rides Latino support in Florida as Miami-Dade turns red

On the South Florida Roundup, WLRN’s Tim Padgett spoke to Eduardo Gamarra. He teaches political science at Florida International University, where he’s also director of the Latino Public Opinion Forum. They discussed how these poll results could play out in the 2024 election.

The poll from UnidosUS shows Florida Latinos voting for Trump over Biden. Not by a majority – 45% to 39%. But, does this mean that Biden and the Democrats have decided that Florida is not worth their efforts anymore? Gamarra says he’s told Florida Democrats some ways to regain some of that lost ground.

“One was to stop taking Latino Democrats for granted, second, to get better candidates, and third to do a little bit more research on Hispanics in this state,” he said. “Those are the three things that the Republicans have been doing consistently for at least the better part of the last two decades.”

According to Gamarra, understanding the community and Latinos in Florida goes back to why Republicans can get the upper hand on Democrats from time to time. For instance, one cannot campaign in Miami on a progressive agenda.

The term “ progressive” alone offends some groups due to their history with socialists and dictatorial governments in Latin America.

He says a survey his group conducted found that two things appear to be important to Latino voters in Miami-Dade County in particular: What’s happening back in their home countries and the U.S.’s policy towards them.

At the same time, a lot of Democrats ask how Latinos could support a candidate like Trump who demonizes Latino immigrants. Some columnists have suggested it’s because deep down, Latinos historically admire authoritarian caudillos or strongmen.

Gamarra says the notion of calling Trump a caudillo, as Democrats tried to label him, had backfired because they didn’t realize the community would see it positively.

“Many in this community, look at Trump as… el caudillo. The guy who's going to solve everything, and is going to bring the United States to a new future,” he said.

Beyond Florida, the Latino Public Opinion Forum found that Biden’s support among Latinos nationally has plunged 14 points since 2020. In this case, the political views and stances are much more moderate and spaced out. Gamarra says there’s a divorce in views and leadership among Latino voters.

“Latinos are still overwhelmingly Democrats, even though it's dropped. When you ask them, ‘Which party best represents your values?’ overwhelmingly, it's the Democratic Party. ‘Which party better handles of policy issues, immigration, education, etc?’ It's the Democrats. And this coincides with other surveys,” he said.

“It's hard to say because the survey didn't really ask this question, but it seems that there is this incredible divorce with the leadership of both parties and Latinos — 56 7% [of those polled] do not want Trump to be the candidate and 45% do not want Biden to be the candidate. So neither party gets off on this. And it reflects this crisis of leadership.”

You can listen to the full conversation at the audio link above.

Copyright 2024 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Helen Acevedo