Biden gets boost from Latino, Black voters after Harris pick: polls
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to name Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate led to a substantial polling bump among Black and Latino voters, two new surveys suggest.
The polls for the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information, administered by the African American Research Collaborative (AARC) and Latino Decisions, were conducted in a half-dozen battleground states in the days surrounding Harris’s Aug. 11 pick.
“The survey was in the field almost an equal number of days before and after the announcement of Sen. Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice presidential candidate,” wrote Matt Barreto, founder of Latino Decisions, in a memo first reviewed by The Hill.
“Looking at the sample, it is balanced before and after the Harris announcement — there are not more Democrats interviewed after, there are not more young people. The data are similar before and after,” Barreto told The Hill. “The only change is that Sen. Harris was named to the ticket, and the data finds large movement towards Biden, well outside the margin of error, among both Blacks and Latinos.”
“This is real movement, this is not a statistical anomaly,” he added.
Harris is the first woman of color to be named a vice presidential candidate for a major political party. She would be the first female vice president if Democrats win the White House in November.
Among Latino voters, Harris’s pick gave Biden a nearly 6 percentage point boost, while cutting into support for President Trump by 9 percentage points, a net boost of 15 points for Biden.
Before the announcement, 59 percent of Hispanic respondents said they would vote or were leaning toward Biden, compared with 26 percent who said the same of Trump.
After the Harris announcement, 65 percent of Hispanic respondents said they supported Biden, while only 17 percent said they supported Trump.
According to an AARC memo on the recent polling, Biden received an 11-point net boost among Black voters when comparing the before and after numbers.
Harris, who will formally accept her nomination as the Democratic vice presidential candidate Wednesday evening, was consistently the top-ranked Democrat among oddsmakers for Biden’s VP pick, in part because of her popularity among voters of color and immigrant communities.
Her Senate record and combative positions against Trump administration officials help explain Harris’s strong level of support among Black voters, according to Henry Fernández, author of the AARC polling memo.
“In the Senate, Kamala Harris has been very good on the issues that our polls show matter most to African Americans right now: addressing racial discrimination; the federal government’s failure to protect Americans from coronavirus; health care; and criminal justice reform. She has made a name for herself grilling members of the Trump administration in hearings, and that administration is very unpopular with Black voters,” said Fernández, a polling expert at AARC.
Among Latinos, Harris’s California roots and progressive positions on issues like immigration and health care help explain the trend, Barreto said.
“During the primary, Harris was quite popular with Latinos. She is well regarded in California and has been a champion for immigrant rights and working families her entire career. So I’m not surprised to see that she was well received, but the magnitude of the jump — about 15 net points in favor of Biden — was pretty significant,” he said.
Tom Lopach, CEO of the Voter Participation Center, said the poll’s results on Harris show that the running mate pick is helping increase voter enthusiasm among Black and Hispanic voters in a cycle where engagement has been made more difficult by the pandemic.
“As a group dedicated to helping people vote, it’s exciting to see increased enthusiasm,” said Lopach.
“The specific challenges of this cycle make it harder to break news and connect with voters, so the announcement of Sen. Harris clearly carries more punch,” he added.
The poll’s original focus — on attitudes about voting by mail — found that both Latino and Black voters want mail voting as an option but do not fully trust the process.
“We wanted to have a better understanding of African American and Latino attitudes about voting, voting by mail, early vote, in-person and Election Day voting,” Lopach said. “Through this research we learned that talking about voting by mail as a choice available to you is an important way to engage voters.”
A huge majority of Latino voters surveyed, 85 percent, believe people should be allowed to vote by mail if they want to, but only about half plan to do so.
Among Black respondents, 90 percent said they should not be denied the opportunity to vote by mail, while 87 percent want more information on that choice. Only half said they would prefer to vote by mail.
The poll of African Americans was conducted among 1,310 respondents, 85 percent of whom are registered voters and the rest eligible but not yet registered, in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. The margin of error for the full sample was 2.7 percentage points, and 6.6 percent for each state.
The poll of Hispanics was conducted among 1,552 respondents, also 85 percent registered voters, in Arizona, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. The margin of error was 2.5 percent and 6.6 percent in each state.
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