A University of Houston-Univision News poll released Tuesday found Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden leading with 66 percent of the Latino vote in Texas, compared to 25 percent for President Donald Trump.
That puts Biden in line with Democrat Hillary Clinton was in 2016 — she won 66 percent of the Latino vote compared to Trump’s 28 percent that year, according to exit polls.
“Generation X and Boomers …they’re a little bit more enthused with Biden than they were, particularly with Clinton,” said Jeronimo Cortina, associate professor of political science at UH and associate director of the Center for Mexican American Studies.
Tuesday’s poll — published hours before the first debate between Biden and Trump — showed that Latino support for Biden has nearly doubled since Super Tuesday when Biden had a lead of about 23 points in a previous UH study.
This latest poll was conducted between Sept. 17 and Sept. 24 and administered in English and Spanish by phone and online to 1,962 voters, plus an additional 401 from Texas. Respondents were randomly selected from voter registration lists. The overall survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.21 percentage points, and the Texas portion was plus or minus 4.89 percentage points.
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One advantage Biden has in the general, Cortina said, is that young Latino voters have less feelings of abandonment from the Democratic Party than in 2016, plus many are dissuaded from voting for Trump because of policies on immigration and health care that are viewed negatively.
“One of the key messages is that the Latino electorate is extremely, extremely motivated to go out and vote,” Cortina said. “That is something that is going to be very important because demographically speaking, when you look at the state, the vote in Texas is trending younger and more, let’s say, Latino.”
Brandon Rottinghaus, a UH political science professor who conducted the poll with Cortina, in a statement added that is likely because of how the group perceives each candidate’s adeptness at addressing issues that are important to them.
“Latinos feel the Democratic Party has better outreach to their communities and is better equipped to handle recovery from COVID-19, the economy, health care and ending racial divisions,” Rottinghaus said.
REPUBLICANS CHALLENGED: This group is trying to woo Latinos to the Texas GOP. Democrats are skeptical.
The top issue for Latino voters was the COVID-19 pandemic, which 40 percent nationally and 44 percent in Texas ranked a top priority. Next came lowering the cost of health care (31 percent of Texas Latino voters), then improving wages and income (26 percent of Texas Latino voters).
The poll found that Latinos who said they had been affected by COVID-19 were four times more likely to vote for Biden. Of that group, 70 percent said they’d vote for Biden versus 20 percent for Trump. Biden would be wise to focus on that issue to win the Latino vote, Cortina said.
Tuesday’s results also align with previous polling that has Biden up over Trump among Latinos, though by how much has varied depending on the poll.
An August poll by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and Rice University’s Baker Institute put Biden up by 9.5 points among Texas Latinos. A Quinnipiac University poll last Thursday had Biden up by 8 points, and a smaller survey by the New York Times and Siena College had Biden up 25.
Cortina attributed the variation in poll results to small sample sizes that don’t fully encompass the breadth of types of Latino voters.
The poll also found that Latino voters are even more engaged than they were for the primary elections this spring, with 78 percent of Latino registered voters nationally and 76 percent in Texas saying they are almost certain to vote this fall.
One voting bloc that stands out in the group are Latinos age 18 to 29: Sixty-eight percent said they will definitely vote this year, up 10 points from last year.
As usual, older voters are more likely to turn out. Of those 50 and older, 85 percent say they’re certain to vote, and of those 30 to 49, 79 percent say they will.
The majority of those polled said they would vote in person, while 23 percent said they’d vote by mail.