One in three Latino Democrats registered to vote in Nevada (33%) say they intend to vote for Bernie Sanders at caucuses this week, according to a poll by Univision News.
That gives the Vermont senator an 11-point lead over former vice president Joe Biden, who ranked second with 22% in voter preference. In third place is businessman Tom Steyer with 12% , indicating his campaign still has life. The margin of error of the survey among Hispanic Democrats is +/- 6.7%.
Among all Latino voters in the state (including Republicans), Sanders also appears as the candidate with the best chance of beating Donald Trump in November. In a head-to-head for the presidency, 80% of respondents say they would vote for Sanders, against only 16% who would vote for Trump. In the same head-to-head scenario, Biden would have the support of 72% of the Latino electorate, versus 19% for Trump.
The big surprise of the poll, however, is the strength of the only Democratic candidate who did not put his name up for consideration at the caucuses this week: former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg. In a head-to-head with Trump, Bloomberg would have the backing of 78% of Latino registered voters in Nevada, against 15% for Trump.
Less surprising, but nonetheless significant, is the poor showing in the Hispanic poll by Pete Buttigieg, who according to the Iowa Democratic Party won the caucuses (the first state to vote) and was a close second to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, both states with a far less diverse population than Nevada. Only 8% of respondents said they would vote for Buttigieg. And even further down was Elizabeth Warren, who was the preferred candidate of only 6% of registered Nevada Democrats.
The first place in the Sanders survey was predictable since he has shown a steady growth in popularity among Latinos, although he remained in a close race with Biden. In 2016, when Sanders was competing with Hillary Clinton, the favorite of the party establishment, the independent Vermont senator won in 10 of the 17 counties in Nevada and obtained 47.3% of the delegates overall. Clinton pulled out victory with 52.6% of the delegates, in part thanks to her strong showing in Clark County, which makes up about 75% of the state's population.
Unlike states with traditional secret ballot primaries, the caucus election process means that candidates who do poorly in a first round of balloting (less than 15%) are declared non-viable. Their followers can then opt for another candidate in a second ballot.
The Univision poll asked Hispanic voters who they would support in a hypothetical second ballot where their preferred candidate was not viable. The result is an interesting possible rearrangement in which Sanders would benefit as a second preference in most cases.
The exception to this scenario is in the case of Tom Steyer, who is ranked third in the preference of Hispanic Democrats (with 12%) and whose followers said they would support Biden as a second option. On the other hand, those who said they support Bloomberg (who is not formally competing in Nevada) show solid support for Sanders as a second option.
After the county caucuses, where about 12,000 delegates are elected, there is a convention in which the number of delegates is reduced to about 4,000, and finally another convention in which the 35 state delegates are elected. But, in this week’s public voting, which usually defines everything, Latinos are going to be decisive.
Hispanics account for 29% of Nevada's total population (which is slightly above three million people), and almost half (46.2%) are eligible to vote, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Univision News poll - in which 300 registered Latino voters were interviewed - found that Nevada's Latino voters are more critical of the current administration than the national average.
The survey in Nevada was done simultaneously with a national survey and, while President Donald Trump's average acceptance among Hispanic voters across the country is 27%, in Nevada it is only 20%. Nationally, 50% of respondents say they have not benefited at all from Trump's economic policies and in Nevada the figure reaches 57%.
While the cost of healthcare is the biggest concern for 25% of the country's Hispanic voters, in Nevada the figure rises to 32%. Also, more than 80% agree with the proposal of ‘Medicare for All’, which is the battle cry of Senator Bernie Sanders.
Methodology: Univision Noticias partnered with the Latino Community Foundation to conduct a national survey of Latino registered voters, with an oversample of Latinos in Nevada. The poll was implemented from February 9 – 14, 2020 and a total of 1,306 Latino registered voters completed the survey. The national portion (n=1,000) contains a margin of error of +/- 3.1 and the Nevada portion (n=306) contains a margin of error of +/- 5.6. Democratic primary vote choice was asked of 667
respondents nationally and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.8 and in Nevada 210 Democratic voters, +/- 6.7. 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 and that they consider themselves to be Hispanic or Latina/o. Respondents were randomly selected from the voter file and invitations for interviews were done by live caller or email. Invitations were bilingual at point of contact and allowed respondent to complete the interview in their language of choice. The survey was overseen by Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling for Univision, and administered in collaboration by Latino Decisions and North Star Opinion Research.