A series of recent Florida polls spell trouble for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, showing the former vice president and President Donald Trump neck and neck in the battleground state, with lagging support among Latinos.
A new poll by NBC/Marist shows Trump and Biden nearly tied in Florida, with the president and Biden receiving 48 percent among all likely voters in the state, whose 29 Electoral College votes are considered near-essential for victory.
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The poll also finds Biden lagging behind Trump when it comes to likely Latino voters, with the president receiving 50 percent support to Biden’s 46 percent.
A Quinnipiac poll released last week also showed Trump leading Latino likely voters 45 to Biden’s 43 across the state, while a Bendixen & Amandi poll, conducted from September 1 to September 4 in the left-leaning Miami Dade County, found Trump with 47 percent support of likely Latino voters, compared with Biden’s 46 percent.
The new polls indicate potential challenges for Biden in Florida, where exit polls showed 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton carrying the Latino vote 62 percent to Trump’s 35 percent. Clinton lost the state by just 1.2 percentage points.
The lag threatens to cut into Biden’s bases of support in the state, particularly among likely Black voters, who support him 83 percent to Trump’s 11 percent, according to the NBC/Marist poll, and elderly voters who Biden leads with 49 percent support compared with Trump’s 48 percent. Exit polls showed Trump winning elderly voters in Florida by 57 percent to Clinton’s 40 percent in 2016.
Nationwide, the diverse Latino demographic is set to be the largest minority group among eligible voters in the US in the 2020 election, representing 13.3 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.
The group has long been viewed as the sleeping giant in American elections and have traditionally voted Democratic, although less so than Black voters, the other major minority group.
In 2016, Latinos voted for Clinton 66 percent to Trump’s 28. Meanwhile, Clinton carried the Black vote in that election with 89 percent to Trump’s 9 percent.
Latinos represented about 20 percent of all eligible voters in Florida in 2016, according to an analysis by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey. They are expected to grow by about three percentage points of the electorate by 2020, according to his projections.
The demographic in 2016 made up 15.7 percent of the state’s more than 12 million active registered voters, according to Pew.
Latino voters in Florida have in the past skewed more conservative than in other states, which some have attributed to the large Cuban-American population.