New CMC Latino Religions and Politics National Survey 2020 released

In the race for president of the United States, Republican incumbent Donald Trump has expanded his support among key Latino voters in Florida and Texas, according to results from Claremont McKenna College’s Latino Religions and Politics National Survey 2020.

With less than six weeks to go before the general election, Democratic challenger Joe Biden has a healthy 2-to-1 advantage over Trump in every age demographic and is significantly leading Trump among Latina women. 

Trump continues to attract Latino support, especially among the nation’s Latino Protestants/Other Christians, who make up 30% of all U.S. Latinos. The survey polled 1,292 Latinos from September 8 to 18, making it the largest Latino religion and politics survey in this election season with a MoE of +/- 2.73% at a 95% confidence level.

“Trump is gaining ground despite COVID-19 and building the border wall,” said Gaston Espinosa, the Arthur V. Stoughton Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College.

“Latinos will be among of the largest groups of voters in key swing states in 2020, making this population key for Biden, especially in Florida,” where there are more than 2.5 million registered Latino voters from a variety of regions and countries, including Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Colombia.

“Florida could determine who wins the White House and Latino voters will certainly play a big role. The nation’s 18 million Latino Protestant and other Christian voters – which are much more likely than Catholics to possibly vote Republican - could also have a real impact on the election because many are undecided and have a history of swinging over and voting Republican, like they did (44%) for George W. Bush in 2004.”  

Although Biden is outperforming Trump among Latinos in every swing state, surprisingly, Trump is doing better than expected in five electoral-rich swing states, including Florida (41%), Nevada (38%), Texas (35%), Georgia (35%), and North Carolina (28%). In Florida, another poll found Trump is taking 38% of Latino voters in Miami-Dade county, a key metropolitan for Biden.

“Based on Trump's favorability rating, the fact that conservatives underreport, and that a high percentage of independent and undecided voters nationwide are born-again Christians, Trump may end up taking 31-34 percent of the U.S. Latino vote – though probably around 32-33 percent,” Espinosa said.   

Other survey results include (the full survey results will be available on Sept. 30):

  • Biden has a 2-to-1 voting advantage over Trump across most demographics
  • Nationwide among all Latinos, Catholics have declined to 54% and Protestants/Other Christians grown to 30%. Within the Latino Christian community, 64% are Catholic and 34% Protestant/Other Christian.
  • Evangelical and born-again Christians have grown significantly
  • Almost 4 in 10 Latinos report being born-again Christians
  • Trump’s Latino support has grown from 26% in an NBC News/WSJ/Telemundo poll to 30%
  • Biden’s 62% Latino support is slightly underperforming Hillary Clinton’s 66% support in 2016
  • Trump is taking almost one-third of all Latino voters nationwide
  • Biden holds an almost 2-to-1 favorability rating over Trump
  • More than half of Latinos reported that Biden can do a better job of rebuilding the economy
  • 1 in 3 Latinos reported that Trump can do a better job of rebuilding the economy
  • Biden has an almost 3-to-1 voting advantage over Trump among Catholics
  • Trump leads Biden among Latino Evangelical born-again Protestants, who make up 64% of the nation’s 18 million Latino Protestants and other Christians
  • Almost 6 in 10 Latinos believe Trump is moving the nation in the wrong direction
  • Almost one-third of Latinos believe Trump is moving the nation in the right direction
  • More than 6 in 10 Latinos disapprove of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis
  • Almost 1 in 3 Latinos approve of Trump’s handling the COVID-19 crisis
  • Almost 8 in 10 Latinos favor legal protections for religious liberty and freedom of conscience

Gastón Espinosa is the Arthur V. Stoughton Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College and Co-Editor of The Columbia University Press Series in Religion and Politics. He served as the past two-term past President of La Comunidad of Hispanic Scholars of Religion at the American Academy of Religion. He directed the survey in cooperation with Rick Hunter of SDR Consulting, who has over 30 years of experience and who has directed Latino surveys with Pew, Telemundo, and Univision. Espinosa has directed Latino national surveys in 2000, 2008, 2012, 2014, and now 2020 and is the author or editor of 8 books, including three on religion and the American presidency.