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Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris to be his running mate in the 2020 presidential election. Our recent poll on behalf of Voter Participation Center and Voto Latino found that 59% of Latino voters in key battleground states said they would be excited about Harris as VP, and 52% say the selection of Harris will make them more likely to vote for Biden. Just 20% said they would be less likely to vote Biden, giving him a net 32 point advantage with a Harris pick. With almost two-thirds of Latinos identifying as Democrats, Biden is positioned to receive a significant boost among Latinos by selecting Harris, which could mobilize this important base in the election against Donald Trump.

Kamala Harris Big Hit

Harris’ past performance with Latino voters in California translated to similar growth with Latino voters throughout the Democratic primary.

Kamala 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 Loretta Sanchez for California’s first open Senate seat in nearly a quarter century in 2016. As her support among Latinos grew throughout the campaign, polls showed her breaking even or surpassing the popular Loretta Sanchez by election day.

Harris’ past performance with Latino voters in California translated to similar growth with Latino voters throughout the Democratic primary. A poll sponsored by Univision showed a surprising 16% jump, from 6-22%, in Latino support for Harris following the July 2019 debate. In fact, Harris was a favorite among Latino voters in the primary; leading the pack with Julián Castro, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Harris’ favorability among Latinos was 53% after July and she has remained one of the top favorites for Latinos throughout. Kamala Harris was the first to provide simultaneous Spanish language translation at a campaign event in Nevada. She was led by Latino campaign manager Juan Rodriguez and noted Latina senior advisor Emmy Ruiz. Harris had established a record of support over the years in her battles in the Golden State where Latinos now outnumber all other groups. She championed Latino causes, taking a chance with a California electorate that had at times voted to limit the rights of immigrants. Not surprisingly, Harris' work won her the endorsement Latina civil rights legend Dolores Huerta when she was running to represent the Democratic Party for president.

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Harris’ selection is an opportunity for Biden to capitalize on the Latino vote and mobilize young Latino voters. She recently showed vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement by standing along the protesters, and her position as a Black woman will present opportunities for conversations about race and ethnicity with renewed depth. In the same battleground poll of Latinos, Harris' favorability strengthened by twenty-three points among those respondents who supported the BLM protestors.

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Anais Lopez
Latino Decisions