Victory in the South Carolina primary gave a new oxygen to Joe Biden's campaign, but one of the obstacles he will encounter in California is the immense support that Bernie Sanders has garnered among Hispanic voters there.
According to a new state poll by Univision News, Latino Community Foundation and North Star Opinion Research, the Vermont senator has nearly three times the support among Latino Democrats in California than Biden: 42% say they will vote for Sanders versus 15% that say they will support the former vice president.
Despite his multimillion-dollar investments in advertising before Super Tuesday, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg has only managed to win over 14% of Hispanic Democratic voters in California. Moreover, Biden and Bloomberg, seen as candidates of the moderate wing of the party, do not together have enough voter support (29%) among Hispanics to match Sanders.
The Univision News poll in California was conducted before Biden's big victory in Saturday's South Carolina primary which could give him a late push going into Super Tuesday. Biden's key support from African-Americans in South Carolina could especially boost his support in states with similar demographics, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Alabama, three of the 14 states that will be at stake on Super Tuesday (they choose 110, 99 and 52 delegates, respectively).
To win state delegates in California and take away momentum from Sanders, the former vice president must get at least 15% support in the state, which chooses 415 of the 1,357 delegates that will be distributed on Super Tuesday.
Even so, unless the victory in South Carolina makes California Hispanics rethink their preference, the Univision News poll shows that Biden has an uphill task due to the strong support that Sanders gathers among Hispanics, although 11% are still undecided.
Latinos eligible to vote represent 30% of the California electorate and one in four Latino voters in the country live in the state, so the primary, which was brought forward this year, gives more weight to the Hispanic vote in the selection of the Democratic nominee.
Sanders' supporters are attracted by his 'Medicare for All' proposal, which, as in other states surveyed by Univision, is backed by more than 80% of Hispanic voters registered to vote in November.
Also, reducing health costs continues to lead the list of priorities for Hispanic voters. A peculiarity of California, however, is the concern of Latinos about housing. When asked about the problems that Congress and the President must address, 15% said they should create more affordable housing, compared with 4% of Latino voters in Texas and 6% in Nevada.
Unlike in Texas, where the identification of a candidate as 'socialist' or 'Democratic Socialist' (the term Sanders uses) is widely rejected, in California the impact of that label is much less.
When asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate described as ‘socialist,’ some of the state’s Latino voters showed reluctance. However, when identified as a ‘Democratic Socialist,’ more Hispanics said that would not prevent them voting for a candidate than those who said it would be an obstacle.
On the other hand, Sanders is the Democrat with the highest favorability: 71% have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the senator; many more than the Hispanic voters with a positive opinion of Biden (58%) and Bloomberg (54%).
Methodology: On behalf of Univision Communications Inc., Latino Decisions conducted a poll of California Latino registered voters. The poll was overseen by Univision polling director Dr. Sergio Garcia-Rios. Overall, 808 Latino registered voters were interviewed from combination of landline, cell phone, and online completion modes across California. All voters were randomly selected and given the opportunity to complete the interview in English or Spanish, at their discretion. Randomized stratified sampling was employed to ensure the appropriate balance of Latinos across state, gender, age, education, and nativity. Post-stratification weights were applied to bring the sample into alignment with the Census CPS estimates of Latinos in California. Overall 31% of interviews were in Spanish and 69% in English. The final California survey contains an overall design error of +/- 3.5%. For the Latino Democrat sample the possible error is +/- 4.1%. The survey was in the field February 21-28, 2020.