If there is one thing the Biden campaign knows for sure, it’s that the former vice president is not exactly the favorite of the U.S. Hispanic community.
For the past two months, polls have been less than favorable for the Democratic nominee, with some estimates from groups like Catalist and Latino Decisions seeing Biden behind Hillary Clinton when it comes to Latino approval.
While President Donald Trump keeps his conservative Hispanic base almost intact, the former vice president still cannot convince the so-called “sleeping giant” to support him.
“Latinos don’t have a strongly formed opinion about who [Biden] is,” explains Stephanie Valencia, a co-founder of Equis Research, to Vox.
This statistical reality seems to have been behind his campaign’s decision to elect California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Harris, 55, is a woman of color, and the daughter of immigrants, which, for some, could be a perfect combination to help Hispanics in the country decide on the Democratic ticket in November.
According to Latino USA, the support of prominent figures in the country’s Latino leadership seems to augur well:
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the Latino advocacy group UnidosUS said Harris’s selection marked, “A great day for women and a great day for our country.”
Democratic strategist Maria Cardona said, “It’s so crystal clear just how much [Harris] terrifies [Donald Trump] and his team. They have no idea how to come at her, can’t do it, nothing will stick, and anything they try will only highlight their own massive racist, sexist, mustache, xenophobic shortcomings.”
Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the iconic United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez, applauded Biden’s pick of Harris. “I urge all voters to work their hearts out to elect the Biden-Harris ticket! Yes We Can,” said Huerta, who turned 90 earlier this year.
Despite having two Latinas on her shortlist — Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham — the final decision to go for Harris seems to have been a Solomonic solution to the representational problem facing the Biden campaign.
In a press statement, Anais Lopez, an analyst for the national polling firm Latino Decisions, said, “Our recent poll on behalf of Voter Participation Center and Voto Latino found that 59 percent of Latino voters in key battleground states said they would be excited about Harris as V.P., and 52 percent say the selection of Harris will make them more likely to vote for Biden.”
Lopez added, “Harris has proven to be a strong contender for Latino voters in the past. As attorney general of California, Harris won a majority of support from Latino voters twice, in 2010 and 2014. She beat [U.S. Rep.] Loretta Sanchez for California’s first open Senate seat in nearly a quarter century in 2016.”
And the campaign team has wasted no time in building on this momentum.
Over the weekend, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign released a new ad targeting Hispanic voters in key swing states like Arizona and Florida, “touting his pick of [Harris] as his running mate,” The Hill reported.
In a 30-second clip running on YouTube in both English and Spanish, the campaign tries to remind millions of Latino voters why Harris is the best choice for November.
“Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are. That’s what our abuelos and abuelas taught us,” says the narrator over images of Biden marching with lawmakers and speaking with voters. “Now, Joe confirmed he’s walking with perfect company.”
“An ally and a champion of the Latino community for years, Kamala is the final piece of the puzzle. Together, Biden and Harris will rebuild the American dream and ensure a future for all,” the narrator adds.