Biden, Sanders tied for support of Nevada's Latino voters, Telemundo poll finds

Suzanne Gamboa

NBC News

Feb 18, 2020

Latino voters in Nevada

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are in a statistical tie for about a third each of Nevada Latinos’ caucus vote, but about 35 percent are aligned with other candidates or are undecided, according to a Telemundo poll released Tuesday.

The Feb. 10-12 poll of 625 registered Latino voters in Nevada found 34 percent support Biden and 31 percent support Sanders.

Support for all the other candidates was in the single digits. Combined with the 12 percent who said they were undecided, the share not committed to Sanders or Biden was 35 percent.

Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted the poll for Telemundo. On the question of which candidate they would vote for in the caucuses, Telemundo polled 362 Latinos likely to vote, producing a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.

A margin of error reflects a pollster’s confidence their findings represent the whole population they are polling. The higher the number, the lower the confidence.

Early voting began Saturday in Nevada and ends Tuesday. The state’s Democratic caucuses begin at noon Saturday.

Telemundo’s poll suggests “this is going to be a close race,” said Juan Proaño, CEO of Plus Three, whose technology company analyzes political and other data.

But “on the ground, it doesn’t feel that way,” he said, adding Sanders appears to be leading among Latino voters.

“I think the Biden folks are holding on tight and hoping and praying he comes in second or third. If he comes in fourth, it’s going to hurt the campaign,” Proaño said.

Sanders dominated the Latino vote in the Iowa caucuses. He also has drawn the highest total political contributions, $8.3 million, from Latinos in 2019, according to Proaño’s analysis of contribution data. He has had strong support from younger Latinos.

Nevada is the first large test of Latino voters’ preferences in the Democratic presidential nomination race.

Iowa and New Hampshire have smaller Latino voting populations and Nevada’s is far more active with a history of influencing the outcomes of political races.

The Nevada caucuses could show whether Sanders has been able to build substantial support among Latinos in other age groups.

The Telemundo poll showed Biden with support from 39 percent of Latinos 50 and older compared to 23 percent for Sanders. Meanwhile, Sanders had 46.3 percent support of voters under age 50, compared to 26 percent for Biden.

Biden and other candidates could cut into Sanders support among Latinos, particularly among members of the Culinary Workers Union. The union, which represents most of the workers in Nevada’s gaming and hospitality industry in Las Vegas, is about 54 percent Latino and made up of immigrants from many countries.

The union, which has been successful in turning out members to vote, has raised concerns about Sanders’ "Medicare for All" proposal and whether it would have an impact on the union’s health insurance package. Some members interviewed by NBC News last week said keeping their insurance would be key in deciding whom they would support, naming Biden and billionaire Tom Steyer as their preferred candidates.

Asked what issue most influenced their voting decision, 27 percent of respondents to Telemundo’s poll said health care and 21 percent said the economy. Immigration followed at 15 percent.

In a separate poll conducted by Latino Decisions for Univision, 33 percent of Nevada Latinos said they support Sanders, compared to 22 percent who said they were planning to vote for Biden.

Steyer came in third with 12 percent while all others finished in single digits or less and 9 percent said they didn’t know.

For the question on the candidate they'd vote for, the Univision poll surveyed 210 Latino registered voters in Nevada, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.7 percentage points.