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Biden is nipping at Trump's heels in Florida, where Cubans and Puerto Ricans view the president very differently: Univision poll

The former vice president has more than twice as much support as Bernie Sanders in Tuesday's Democratic primary. If he wins the nomination, Florida is projected once again to be a key swing state in November. Leer en español

Joe Biden has a crushing lead over Bernie Sanders among Florida's registered voters, within days of the March 17 Democratic primary in the state, according to a new Univision News poll.

If he becomes the nominee, the former vice president will be in a tight race with Donald Trump, as they are currently in a virtual tie: Trump leads Biden by 3 points, within the margin of error of +/- 3%.

Sanders, on the other hand, is trailing Trump by seven points in a head-to-head contest in November: 42% - 49%.

The poll, which was conducted March 6 - 12, suggests that with Biden as the nominee, Florida would be a swing state in the November elections, and the support of Hispanics could tip the scales toward one candidate or the other.

As of February, 17% of registered voters identify themselves as Hispanic, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections. President Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by one point (48.6% versus 47.4%).

According to the survey, in a showdown with Trump, both Biden and Sanders would get similar support among Latino voters in the state: The former vice president would have 53%, while the Vermont senator would get 52%.

Trump, meanwhile, would receive around 30% support among Hispanics, largely driven by the Cuban vote. A solid 59% of Cuban American respondents said they would vote for the president if the candidate were Biden. The percentage rises to 61% if the candidate is Sanders. About 1.6 million Hispanics of Cuban origin reside in Florida, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Reflecting the diversity of the Latino vote in the state, Puerto Rican voters, on the other hand, reject Trump. Biden has three times more support among Puerto Ricans than the president.

Trump has been heavily criticized for his handling of the crisis unleashed by Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Many on the island feel that the US government abandoned them and the president engaged in public discussions with local officials about the effectiveness of his response to the crisis.

In the first year after the hurricane, around 133,500 Puerto Ricans left the island, and a third of them moved to Florida. According to estimates from the Census Bureau, about 1.2 million currently reside in the state. A 2018 analysis by the Pew Research Center found that among Florida's eligible Latino voters, Puerto Ricans accounted for 31%, the same proportion as Cubans.

Biden, headed for big win in Florida

Shortly before the March 17 primary, Biden leads Sanders by more than two-to-one in the state: 63% to 25%. Unlike Nevada and California, where Sanders was the clear favorite of Hispanic Democrats in Univision polls, Biden has roughly equal support with Sanders among Hispanics in Florida: 48% versus 45% (within the margin of error).

While being described as a ‘Democratic Socialist’ in California is seen as something positive by Latino voters, Florida Hispanics reject the term -which the Vermont senator uses to describe his political views-, according to the Univision News poll. The term 'socialist' when used on its own has a greater level of rejection among Hispanics.

The poll also asked Florida’s Latino voters what is the main problem that the president and Congress must address and found that health care cost top the list (30%), as in Arizona, California, Texas and Nevada. Hispanic voters also included higher wages (18%) and creating more jobs (14%) among their priorities.

In fact, the vast majority of Latino voters support a proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $10 an hour next year, with increases of $1 annually to $15 by 2026. The current base salary is $8.56. per hour ($5.54 for those who earn tip). The initiative, which also has support among all voters in the state, will be on the November ballots.

Methodology: Univision Noticias commissioned a statewide poll of Florida registered voters with an oversample of Florida Latinos. The poll was implemented from March 6 – 12, 2020. The statewide portion (N=1,071) contains a margin of error of +/- 3.0 and the Latino portion (n=571) contains a margin of error of +/- 4.1. Democratic primary vote choice was asked of 531 respondents statewide and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.3 and, and 291 Latino Democratic voters, +/- 5.7. Surveys were administered in English or Spanish at the discretion of the respondent and included a mix of cell phone, landline telephone and online self-completed interviews. All respondents are confirmed to be registered to vote. Respondents were randomly selected from the voter file and invitations for interviews were done by live caller, email, or text message. Invitations were bilingual at point of contact and allowed respondents to complete the interview in their language of choice. After data collection was complete a post-stratification weight was added to balance the data to the best known Census ACS data on the eligible voting population in Florida. Among Latinos, 58% completed the survey in English and 42% in Spanish. The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio García-Ríos, director of polling for Univision, and administered by Latino Decisions.

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