bernie sanders

Sanders’s ‘Secret Weapon:’ Strong Latino Support

Sanders is presently the strongest Democratic candidate among Latino primary voters. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s interesting to recall that just over two months ago there was speculation that Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign might be finished. After the natural initial fears faded, nobody really thought his heart attack would keep him from staying in the race. But the general feeling outside his own camp was that it was a potential coup de grace for an already-struggling campaign that had lost a lot of its mojo to the high-flying Elizabeth Warren.

Instead, Sanders has hung in there and improved his relative position even as Warren has lost altitude. And as pundits have come back around to examining his base of support, many have come to realize something about it that is somewhat different and quite important, as Ron Brownstein reports:

[T]here are signs Hispanics may prove a kind of secret weapon for Sanders. In a recent Fox News poll of Nevada, Hispanics there preferred Sanders over Biden by 7 percentage points. Sanders also led Biden with them by 9 points in a recent Latino Decisions poll of California and doubled the former vice president’s vote among them in the University of Texas at Tyler poll. Sanders narrowly led Biden with Hispanics in a New York Times/Siena poll of Florida, and the two ran even in Arizona, according to the OH Predictive Insights survey.

The evidence of Sanders’s strength among Latinos is everywhere, most recently in a University of California IGS survey of the Golden State, where Sanders led the field, in no small part because of his 32 percent showing (Biden is second at 19 percent) among Latinos.

Brownstein notes that Sanders did well among younger Latinos in 2016, but quotes his pollster to the effect that Bernie is now exhibiting “more appeal across generations” in this demographic group. Perhaps — though cross tabs from Morning Consult’s most recent tracking poll show Sanders leading Biden 40/16 (with Warren at 11) among under-35 Latinos and 24/18 (with Warren at 16) among Latinos aged 34–44. But among Latinos aged 45–65, Biden leads Sanders 35/16 (Warren is at 12) and among Latino seniors Biden’s lead balloons to 45/10 (with Warren at 9). Sanders has an overall 29/23 lead over Biden (with Warren at 12) in this demographic because Latinos are an unusually young ethnic group.

The age factor is also critical to Sanders’s solid if less-powerful positioning among African-American voters, too. According to Morning Consult, Bernie is leading Joe Biden among under-30 black voters by a 41/23 margin. But at the other end of the age spectrum, among black seniors, Biden trounces Sanders 61/6.

As I noted recently, Sanders and Biden have joined Andrew Yang and Julian Castro as the remaining candidates who are drawing more support from nonwhite than white voters (by contrast, according to CNN data, Warren’s white/nonwhite percentages are at 17/9, and Pete Buttigieg’s are at 17/4). As the nomination contest calendar moves to more diverse states after New Hampshire, this dimension of their electoral bases could help them rebound from losses to Warren and/or Buttigieg in overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sanders’s ‘Secret Weapon:’ Strong Latino Support