Ariz. Latinos closely split between Biden, Sanders

joe biden bernie sanders
Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate on Feb. 7, 2020, in Manchester, New Hampshire. Photo by Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Unlike the Nevada, Texas and California primaries where Sen. Bernie Sanders carried the Latino vote in large margins over former Vice President Joe Biden, Latino voters in Arizona are split almost evenly among the two likely Democratic nominees for president, according to a new poll by Univision Noticias and Arizona State University. 

The poll, based on responses from 502 registered Arizona voters who identify as Latino, shows 44% of respondents would vote for Sanders in the upcoming March 17 primary while 39% favor Biden. The poll was conducted March 6-11 in both English and Spanish, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. 

Among Arizona Latinos, Sanders has a slight edge over Biden in terms of favorable opinions: the Vermont senator polled at 57% versus 54% for the former vice president. 

President Donald Trump has a high disapproval rating among Latinos in Arizona, with 72% saying they disapprove of the way he is handling his job. About 23% of Latinos statewide would either vote for Trump or are undecided but would lean for the incumbent, according to the poll. 

Census data shows Latinos account for 32% of Arizona’s population, and they made up almost 20% of the people who voted in 2016.

Latino Decisions, a national polling firm, administered the poll. Co-founder Matt Barreto warned state Democrats about a finding of the survey. Among Latino voters in Arizona, 32% said they’ll “wait and see who the actual nominee is” before committing their votes to the Democratic nominee if their preferred candidate isn’t selected. 

Overall, 53% of Arizona Latinos responded they have not benefited “at all” from Trump’s economic policies, though 40% Latino Republicans said they’ve personally benefited “a lot.” 

On the issues, more than a third of Latinos polled among all political affiliations said they are most concerned with lowering the cost of healthcare, the poll showed. Among Latino Republicans, the second most pressing issue is “border security to control immigration,” while Latino Democrats and independents ranked “improving wages and incomes” as the second most important topic. 

Medicare for All a flagship campaign issue of the Sanders campaign   polled favorably among Latinos in Arizona, with 74% supporting this policy and 26% opposing it. 

Support was even higher for “a universal health insurance system that guarantees health care for everyone,” with 83% of Latinos in favor and only 17% opposed. The idea was even supported by 59% of the Latino Republicans surveyed.

Laura Gómez
Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.