Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign is urging Latino supporters in Arizona to take advantage of early voting, which is already underway in the state with millions of ballots mailed to residents.
Although Arizona has often swung Republican in years past, this year Democrats see opportunity both in the general election and a special Senate race they hope can win them back a majority in the upper chamber.
Latinos are key to their chances. They’re expected to be the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority for the first time in a presidential election, with a record-setting 32 million projected to be eligible to vote nationwide.
That comprises 13.3% of all eligible voters, even though it’s far below the 60 million Latinos who live in the country.
With less than three weeks until Election Day, Latino voters in Arizona have told The Arizona Republic the former vice president needs to work harder on community outreach.
According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of Latino registered voters nationwide identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 34% say the same about the Republican Party. The top issues for Latinos in Arizona included health care and the coronavirus pandemic — both a major part of the Democratic platform.
Biden, however, has made only one visit to Arizona as the nominee, while President Trump has visited the state five times over the course of 2020.
In September, Trump held a Latinos for Trump roundtable event in Phoenix, during which Latino business owners, veterans, and law enforcement officers voiced their support for the president.
Trump was scheduled to make a sixth trip to Arizona, but was sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.
At an event near a South Phoenix polling center this week, Latina voters demonstrated their support for Biden, but others expressed concerns to The Republic.
“People who follow politics know him,” 73-year-old Carmen Arias said. “But he’s very White and very old, so there could be some trouble there.”
Janet Murguia, the president and CEO of Latino civil rights organization UnidosUS, said that she had been disappointed with efforts by both campaigns — though Biden has made strides in recent weeks.
“It’s been an acknowledgment by them that they got a later start than they would have preferred with the Latino community,” she said. “But, I think there is no question that now there is an all-in effort by the Biden campaign” to reach out to Latinos.
“They have pivoted and are now fully engaged, but I think Biden just hasn’t been as well-known in our community, so he has to do a lot of work to make sure he connected or reconnected with the Latino community,” Murguia explained. “When you are vice president, it’s not like when you have been a president.”