Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses voter demographics.
Take a look at Gallup polling during the Biden presidency. Aggregating all the polls it has conducted so far (in order to get a large sample size), Biden's approval rating with Hispanics stands at 72% compared to a 55% overall approval rating.
That 72% is a clear improvement from how Biden did in the election with Hispanics. Biden won 65% of Hispanics, according to the network exit polls. An estimate from the Democratic firm Catalist (which lines up well with what we saw in pre-election polls) had Biden taking 61% of Hispanics. So this Gallup data suggests Biden's support may be up anywhere from 7 to 11 points from the election.
Recent incumbents seem to see their support among Hispanics rise in their reelection bids. In fact, the last five incumbents since George H.W. Bush did better with Hispanics than they did when they were elected to their first term.
What's notable about Bush is that he did better even though he lost when he sought reelection. Bush went from winning by 8 points in 1988 to losing by 6 points in 1992 (a 14-point swing). Yet, Bush went from losing Hispanics by 40 points in the 1988 exit polls to losing them by 36 points in 1992 (a 4 point swing in his direction).
Latinos who switched their votes, backing Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Trump in 2020, also played a role in the former president’s gains.
Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist who previously oversaw Latino outreach for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, conducted focus groups with some of them. He said that the women in those groups, who tended to identify as independents, voted for Clinton because they wanted to see the first woman president. The men, on the other hand, associated her with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who they believed to be good for the economy in the 1990s.
As for Trump, they gave him full credit for a robust economy prior to the Covid-19 downturn, and they didn’t blame him for mishandling the pandemic. But in most cases, they could just as well be persuaded to vote for a Democrat again.
“The good news for Democrats is that they’re all very encouraged about what they’re seeing from Joe Biden on getting the country opened back up because of vaccinations, about the stimulus checks — that went a long way,” Rocha said. “I think that 80 percent of all the Latinos that we talked to in these last focus groups could be persuaded back to vote for Joe Biden because, in their words, they’re seeing real results from his administration.”
Democrats should also be paying attention to people who haven’t participated in elections or have done so infrequently. Though there was massive growth in the number of new Latino voters in 2020, there are still many more non-voters: About half of Latino citizens of voting age did not turn out in November. That means “sky-high potential” for both parties in future elections, Odio said.