Monday, April 15, 2024

Bernie Sanders polling well among Latinos, now he needs them to vote

“The only reason that I had any hope in launching a long-shot campaign for Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez told the massive crowd in East River in Queens, “is because Bernie Sanders proved that you can run a grassroots campaign and win in an America where we almost thought it was impossible.”

As this coming year’s nominating contest swirls into view, Sanders will be counting on the support of Latinos, a diverse voting bloc that could swing races in states like California, Nevada, Florida and even Iowa. Recent polling suggests that Sanders has a clear advantage with young Latino voters, who could, with even a modest growth in turnout, fundamentally alter the composition of the Democratic electorate.

A Fox News survey out of Nevada last month showcased the base of Sanders’ strength. Nearly a third of Latinos polled, 31%, backed the Vermont independent, giving him a 7-point edge over his closest competitor, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sanders also led among young voters across ethnic lines, with 34%, twice the total for Biden and Warren, respectively. In interviews with leading Democratic Latino strategists, pollsters, activists and Sanders’ highest-profile backer, Ocasio-Cortez, a common thread emerged: Sanders, bolstered by notable early investments in Latino outreach and underscored by more nuanced messaging than typically directed at this diverse community, has created a growing sense that he might not only win with the community in states like Nevada and California, but chart out a new path for how Democrats seek and earn Latino support.

Still, many of the same observers warned that the Sanders campaign’s ambitions are staked on a strategy that demands a break from historical convention — drawing out young voters. The median age for Latinos in the US today is only about 28 years old, which offers the campaign some reason for optimism.

Sanders’ team has made significant new investments and gestures to the Latino electorate.  Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser, said the proof was plain to see; He ticked off the headlines: The campaign opened its first Nevada field office in East Las Vegas, home to the highest concentration of Latinos in the state; The first dollars Sanders spent in California were used to open an office in East L.A.; And the first thing the campaign did in Iowa was communicate with voters in a bilingual format.

“We started having these conversations early,” he said.