Biden-Trump and the Fight for the Latino Vote

Joe Biden’s statement last week to Latino voters in Phoenix, Arizona reflects what’s on the line in what is being portrayed as a tight election between the Democratic president and the Republican former president, Donald Trump: “I need you badly.”

Although in political terms, the November 5th contest is worlds away, various surveys have found that Latino support for Biden has eroded since 2020, when a CBS News poll concluded that 65% of Latinos supported him. Now it’s around 53%, although he continues to prevail over Trump among this diverse group of voters.

The key is maintaining and increasing that support, ensuring that disaffected voters come out and vote because, as it’s been said, a voter who stays home is a vote for the other side – in this case, Trump.

The Biden campaign knows this and launched their initiative “Latinos with Biden-Harris” in Arizona, a swing state that the president narrowly won over Trump in 2020.

He also visited Texas and Nevada. In addition, First Lady Jill Biden was in Puerto Rico, as was Vice President Kamala Harris, who made a stop on the Island to raise campaign funds. Puerto Ricans on the Island cannot vote in presidential elections, but those living in the United States can, and many live in key states where a handful of votes decides an election.

The Biden campaign ran an ad reminding Latinos of the insults Trump makes toward immigrants, while Trump continued exploiting the border issue in another ad.

But in the case of Latino voters, it’s vital to recognize that they do not constitute a voting block. Their visions are as diverse as their nationalities of origin. They are conservative, moderate, liberal, and progressive. Some feel offended by Trump’s insults toward immigrants, and others applaud them. Some feel empathy for immigrants, and others despise them.

So much so that, owing to Latinos’ diversity, there can’t be a one size fits all strategy. But if anything works, it’s speaking to them clearly and without ambiguity.

And Biden has many good things to say because under his presidency, Latinos have experienced low levels of unemployment; programs and tax credits have been amplified that reduced poverty levels among Hispanic children; and initiatives benefiting small businesses have been expanded. They have also benefited from the partial cancellation of student loan debt. The list is long.

But the immigration issue continues to be a rock in the shoe for Democrats, as it has been impossible to accomplish the elusive immigration reform. And Democrats assuming a hard line at the border with “Republican-lite” postures doesn’t sit well among some sectors.

Biden, at least to this day, is outlining contrasts with Trump, especially in the concern about extremist language and insulting referrals to immigrants as “animals,” and saying that they are “poisoning the blood of the nation.”

As a Latina, I am certain that a sector of our diverse community supports Trump and his horrible, incendiary language because there are Latinos that think themselves superior to other Latinos, and believe that when Trump insults immigrants, he is not referring to them – although in reality he is insulting all of us. Others support Trump’s positions and let his contempt for immigrants go.

But I also know that in our diverse community, there is a lot of empathy toward immigrants, and they appreciate the enormous contributions immigrants have made, and continue to make, to this country.

Immigrants like those who, according to press reports, disappeared in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland this Tuesday. They worked for a construction company that was making asphalt repairs on the bridge. The media and social networks quoted a construction employee, Jesús Campos, who said that they came to the United States looking for a better life for the families they left behind in their countries of origin.

These Latino immigrants were working the most difficult shifts, not “poisoning the blood of our nation,” like Trump says.

By recognizing the contributions of immigrants and the entire Latino community, and delineating contrasts with Trump, Biden can effectively appeal to Hispanic voters.

The original Spanish version is here.


  • Maribel Hastings

    Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor and columnist at America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund. A native of Puerto Rico, Maribel is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico with a major in public communications and a history minor. She worked for La Opinión, and became La Opinión’s first Washington, D.C. correspondent in 1993. Maribel has received numerous awards, including the 2007 Media Leadership Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for her coverage of the immigration debate in the U.S. Senate.

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