Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE are splitting the support from Latino voters in Arizona and Florida, according to a Telemundo poll released Wednesday.
The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon, showed 48 percent of respondents in Florida support Biden to 37 percent for Sanders. In Arizona, 47 percent said they’d support Sanders to 40 percent for Biden.
The polls were conducted March 4-6 and surveyed 625 likely Latino voters in each state. Latino voters in Florida were generally older and more likely to be Republicans than in Arizona.
According to the poll, Biden is much more likely to win Latinos in Florida if he were to become the nominee, while Sanders is virtually tied for support with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE. The results counter a trend Sanders has seen leading up to Super Tuesday, where Latinos overwhelmingly supported him over other candidates.
In Florida, the Latino electorate is composed predominantly of Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans, the latter of which are predominantly descendants of refugees from the Cuban revolution and much less apt to support a self-identified democratic socialist candidate: according to the poll, 70 percent of Latinos in Florida said they would not support a politician who identifies as a socialist.
The poll also showed 54 percent of Florida Latinos approve of U.S. sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela.
“In many ways the Florida electorate reflects the wide variety of U.S. foreign policy,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a professor of political science at Florida International University. “Miami is kind of a collection of U.S. foreign policy failures.”
Last month Sanders drew ire from representatives of South Florida after praising literacy programs in communist Cuba. Though Sanders has made a concerted effort to distinguish his brand of socialism from that which has passed through Latin America, according to the poll, only 19 percent of Cuban Americans in Florida said they’d support Sanders over Trump.
In 2016, Sanders lost Florida to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE by more than 30 points and by more than 50 points in South Florida. When asked if they would support Biden over Trump, 27 percent of Cuban Americans responded in support of Biden.
In an interview on the podcast “In The Thick,” Sanders adviser Chuck Rocha noted the campaign’s weakness among Cuban Americans and said recent transplants from Puerto Rico are an opportunity for Sanders to gain traction in the state.
“The population that you talk about who worries about the communist thing are older Cubans in Miami, so I’m not really going to spend a lot of time talking to Cubans over 50,” he said. “That whole demographic in that state is changing, and I would tell white consultants and the establishment that there’s been a million Puerto Ricans who’ve moved to the I-4 corridor that you may want to pay attention to.”
On @InTheThickShow, @Maria_Hinojosa and I talked about @BernieSanders Sanders and Cuba comments. I shared what @ChuckRocha of Sanders campaign told me in Nevada about Sanders’ chances in March 17 #FloridaPrimary. This is what Chuck told me.
FULL SHOW: https://t.co/MtgjafdguR pic.twitter.com/fypPInstVt
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) February 29, 2020
Gamarra said in previous polls former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a multibillionaire who ran a short-lived and self-funded campaign, was leading among Latinos in Florida. In one poll, Gamarra said, Bloomberg ranked first among Latinos, followed by Sanders, then Biden.
Bloomberg dropped out after a disappointing Super Tuesday and endorsed Biden and appears to have brought his supporters with him.
“I think it’s making a lot of Latino Democrats who were offended by Sanders and would have been comfortable supporting Bloomberg go to Biden,” Gamarra said. “Latinos were really looking for a candidate.”
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Sanders continues to poll well in Arizona, which, much like states he has won in the past like Nevada and California, has a large Mexican American population.
However, even though more Latinos support Sanders over Biden in Arizona, when both candidates were put against Trump, Biden still led by 4 points, gaining some Latinos who typically vote Republican.
Though Latinos in Florida and Arizona differed in terms of preferred candidates, both polls showed health care as their first priority and immigration as third and in similar percentage margins.
The next Democratic presidential debate happens in Phoenix on March 15, two days before the two delegate-rich swing states cast ballots on March 17.