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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Trump’s support among Latinos grows, new poll shows

Former President Donald Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, at during a campaign rally in Rock Hill, S.C., Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. President Joe Biden is struggling to overcome doubts about his leadership inside his own party and broad dissatisfaction over the nation’s direction, leaving him trailing behind Trump just as their general-election contest is about to begin. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

By Jennifer Medina

President Joe Biden continues to lose crucial support among Latino voters, with an increasing number of those voters saying they are more likely to vote for former President Donald Trump, according to a new poll by The New York Times and Siena College.

The poll shows Trump edging out Biden among Hispanic voters, with 46% supporting Trump and 40% favoring Biden, but because Latino voters make up just 15% of the electorate, the poll’s sample size of the group is not large enough to assess small differences reliably. For a subgroup that size, the margin of error is 10 percentage points.

But the poll, and others like it, make clear that Trump has continued to make remarkable inroads with Hispanic voters.

Few observers would have predicted this kind of support for a former president who, when he first declared his candidacy for the White House nearly a decade ago, claimed that many Mexican immigrants were rapists and criminals. During the 2020 election, many Democrats were stunned when Trump saw his support from immigrant-heavy precincts improve dramatically.

For much of that campaign, many Democrats presumed that Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies would repel Latino voters. And in much of the country, that presumption proved true. Roughly 60% voted for Biden, and Latino voters helped flip Arizona to Democrats in 2020. They were also central to the party’s ability to hold on to Nevada in both that election and the 2022 Senate race. But Latino voters in South Texas and Florida were also key for Republican wins in those states in 2020.

Still, many leaders in the Democratic Party maintain that Hispanic support for Trump does not represent a broad ideological shift toward Republicans. Polls have repeatedly shown that such voters say they are attracted to Trump’s stances on the economy and the border. Many Latino voters have also pointed to Trump’s personality as a key part of his appeal. Trump’s lead has grown among Latino voters in the past four years, according to Times/Siena polls.

The number of Latinos eligible to vote has increased steadily for two decades, and more than 36 million are eligible this year, an increase of nearly 4 million in just the past four years, according to the Pew Research Center. Latinos now account for nearly 15% of eligible voters, a record high.

Since 2020, both Republicans and Democrats have scrambled to shore up support with Latino voters, largely because they see the group as critical to creating a winning majority. Trump does not need the support of a majority of Latinos to win in November; merely peeling off a few percentage points among the group could prove decisive.

Historically, roughly one-third of Latino voters have supported Republicans in presidential elections. But there have been examples of greater Republican success — in 2004, George W. Bush received support from about 40% of Latinos.

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