Democrat Joe Biden yesterday made his first campaign visit of the year to Florida, where opinion polls show a tight race against President Donald Trump amid signs of lagging support for Biden among the battleground state’s crucial Hispanic voters.
With less than 50 days until the November 3 election, the Biden campaign is trying to overcome concerns about enthusiasm among Florida Latinos and a disinformation campaign that has tried to paint the moderate Democratic nominee as a socialist.
A NBC News/Marist opinion poll showed the two White House contenders in a dead heat in Florida and Trump with a four-point edge over Biden among the state’s Latinos.
Democrat Hillary Clinton won their votes by 27 percentage points in 2016, according to exit polls.
Other polls have shown Biden leading among state Hispanics but still trailing Clinton’s support.
Trump won Florida over Clinton by just 1.2 percentage points, which helped propel him to the White House.
His inroads with Florida Hispanics have been fuelled by his strength with conservative Cuban-Americans, a Republican-leaning bloc he has courted throughout his presidency.
“Clearly, there has been some haemorrhaging of Hispanic support going on, mainly Cuban-Americans,” said Democratic state senator Annette Taddeo, a Colombian-American. “The Republicans have worked really, really hard, and they have been constantly present.”
The steady drumbeat of Republican attacks on Biden, the vice president under Barack Obama, falsely labelling him a socialist has also taken a toll, Florida Democrats said.
Florida’s Republican lieutenant governor, Jeanette Nunez, a daughter of Cuban immigrants, said Biden’s agenda contradicted the values of “faith, family and freedom” held by Hispanic voters.
“He is completely in the pocket of the radical left — those people who look fondly at the socialist dictatorships in Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere,” Nunez told reporters on a call arranged by the Trump campaign yesterday.
Felice Gorordo, a Cuban-American Biden ally, said the campaign should focus on younger Cuban voters, who do not see foreign policy as the No 1 issue, making them more open to the campaign’s central message on recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Some Florida Democrats said they had noticed a sharp rise in videos and commentary in social media and texts repeating falsehoods about Biden and pushing other conspiracy theories about Democrats.
“We are seeing a massive disinformation campaign in Spanish aimed at our community calling Biden and Democrats socialists, and it is having an effect,” said Evelyn Perez-Verdia, a Colombian-American Democratic strategist in south Florida.
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