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New poll has Joe Biden leading among Hispanic voters, but not by the margin he needs

The poll skewed toward Cuban voters.

Democrat Joe Biden is leading among Florida Hispanic voters but not by the margin some Democrats think he needs, according to a new poll done for Telemundo.

The new poll of likely voters from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy says Biden currently is favored by 48% of Florida Hispanics, while President Donald Trump is favored by 43%.

A significant portion  of Florida Latinos a few days out from Election Day — 7% — told Mason-Dixon pollsters they still were undecided. Both campaigns have been battling hard for their votes in the closing days, with new waves of TV, radio, and digital advertising just this week.

The new poll was conducted Oct. 23-26 by phone among 500 likely Hispanic voters. Mason-Dixon said the poll has a margin of error of just over 4 percentage points.

The sample was heavily weighted toward Cuban-Americans. Though the latest census is expected to show Florida’s population of Puerto Ricans about equal, they have a notoriously bad record on voter turnout. For this poll, 38% identified as Cuban-American  and 22% as Puerto Rican. An “other” category includes 14% who identified themselves as South American, 8% as Mexican-American, 8% as Central American, and the rest as mixed, other or who declined to be specific.

The poll shows the usual cultural fault lines in measuring politics in the Hispanic community. Trump leads among Cuban-Americans, 71% to 23%. Biden leads among Puerto Ricans, 66% to 23%. Biden also leads among other Hispanics, 62% to 27%.

Consequently there also is a big difference between views in Southeast Florida, where Cuban Americans dominate the Hispanic population, and Central Florida, where Puerto Ricans dominate.

The poll finds Biden and Trump tied in Southeast Florida, with 48% apiece. Biden leads in the Tampa Bay area by 53% to 35%, and in the Central Florida area by 53% to 37%.

Another finding in the poll exposes a less-discussed fault line within the Hispanic community. Trump leads among Latino men, 50%-42%, while losing big to Biden among Latinas. Biden takes the women’s vote by 53% to 37%.

Republican Hispanics are holding fast to party loyalty. Virtually none — 1% —  are abandoning the GOP to vote for Biden, though 7% said they are undecided. Biden loses 7% of Democratic Hispanic voters to Trump, while only 4% of Democrats are undecided. Biden leads among independent Hispanic voters, 48% to 38%.

Among other questions, Hispanic voters showed strong concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, and the prospects for a vaccine.

A significant portion — 45% — also said they are “seriously concerned about violence breaking out after the election,” while 49% said they were not seriously concerned.

Fifty-five percent of likely Hispanic voters said they believe the coronavirus is still very dangerous and that serious protective measures still need to be taken. Another 37% said the coronavirus is not as dangerous as it was earlier this year, and that it is time to re-open schools and businesses.

That question split similarly to the Biden-Trump question. Cuban-Americans and Republicans said it’s time to re-open, while just about every other group, including majorities of men and women, said protective measures still need to be taken. There was no clear geographic split: Southeast Florida, Tampa Bay, and Central Florida all favored more protective measures, by double-digits.

Similar splits were seen when Mason-Dixon asked likely Hispanic voters if they intended to get vaccinated immediately if a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available and it has the backing of both the government and scientists. Cuban-Americans and Republicans said yes, while every other group and all three geographic centers said no.

Overall, 37% said yes, they’d take the vaccine; while 52% said no, they wouldn’t.

Democratic Hispanics (58%,) Puerto Ricans (55%,) Latinas (51%,) and Central Florida Hispanics (50%) were most likely to be concerned about violence breaking out after the election.

The least concerned are Republican Hispanics (37%,) independent voters (38%,) Cuban-Americans (38%,) Hispanic men (39%,) and Southeast Florida Hispanics (42%.)

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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