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Biden risks losing Latino vote in 2024 election
Dating back all the way to the Viva Kennedy clubs of the 1960 presidential election, and those grainy black and white television ads showing Jacqueline Kennedy asking for Latinos to vote for her husband, Senator John F. Kennedy. Democrats have had a near stranglehold on the votes of Latinos.
Over 15 presidential elections come hell or high water, the Democratic nominee captured the majority of Latino vote, even if the nominee didn’t ultimately win the White House. Sometimes those votes were easy for Latinos to cast. See Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. Other times it was a real ask. See, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry. And on at least one occasion, Latinos voted for someone they didn’t really like, trust or connect with, because what they really wanted to do was vote against his opponent. Then as you might expect, a lot of them had buyer’s remorse.
You see, in the 2020 election, 16.6 million Latinos cast ballots. According to the UCLA Latino policy and politics Institute, this represents an increase of 30.9% over the turnout for Latino voters in 2016. The overall increase across all voting groups was only about half as much. This means that after decades of not voting, Latinos have finally found their way to the polling place.
But what are they going to do now that they’ve gotten there? It’s unpredictable. Latinos are not the slam dunk for Democrats they once were. In 2020, only 61% of Latinos voted for Joe Biden. That’s bad for a Democrat. In 1996, Bill Clinton got 72% of Latino vote. In 2012, Barack Obama got 71%. And Biden only got 61% running against then President Donald Trump, the most anti Latino commander in chief in US history.
Still, Biden’s poor showing with Latinos was no surprise to those of us who pay attention to how Latinos vote. Throughout the Democratic primaries, Biden hadn’t done well with Latinos. He wasn’t their first, second or third choice. The candidate they really wanted, the one they were excited about, was still Bernie, AKA Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who Biden defeated, in part because of Biden’s strong appeal among black voters. Instead of build on his poor showing with Latinos, Biden instead pretty much ignored them throughout his first term. Even worse, he broke a whole series of promises about how he was going to revoke, rescind and repeal all those draconian Trump immigration policies. Instead, Biden wound up keeping a bunch of them.
Just a few months ago, in fact, Biden who once promised on the campaign trail that he would not build, quote, “another foot of border wall,” announced that he was instead building about 23 miles of it.
So what do Biden’s numbers with Latinos look like now? Well, as you can imagine, they went from bad to worse. In a recent poll for the New York Times and Siena College, only 50% of Latinos supported Biden, while 42% back Trump. This is no small and insignificant tribe that Biden decided to stab in the back and is now pissed off.
The 62 million Latinos in the United States are the country’s largest minority, they make up one in five Americans. Latino voters also represent about 15% of the US electorate. Besides, those voters are strategically located. Latinos accounted for as much as 20% of the electorate in the two states that have the largest number of electoral votes, Texas and California.
They also make up a big chunk of the electorate in two battleground states that’re expected to help decide next year’s election: Arizona and Nevada. These voters think for themselves, especially the young ones, and they’re not likely to show up for someone who doesn’t have their back. They don’t have to vote for Trump. In fact, they don’t have to vote at all. Anyway you spin it, Biden blew it. He lost the Latino vote, and now he could well lose the White House.
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