Latino Voters Aren’t All in for Biden. They’re Not Sure about Harris, Either.

Ronda Churchill for The Washington Post
From top, David Mungia, Biddy Adams, Isabella Bello, Jason Adams, Kimberly Beltran, Jonathan Smith

LAS VEGAS – As hundreds of families gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday at a local park here, many sported patriotic outfits full of red, white and blue and expressed their excitement about seeing fireworks. But in interviews with over a dozen Latino attendees, hardly anyone shared that excitement about the presidential election that’s four months away.

Under one tent, a family blasted music by Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra and prepared plates of tortilla chips drenched in salsa verde. A few feet away, a group of women yelled at their children in Spanish to stay close where they could see them. And several in the diverse crowd lined up to buy tacos at the popular Slanging Tacos food truck parked on the park grounds.

Latino voters make up nearly 20 percent of Nevada’s electorate and were among those who attended the celebration at Buckskin Basin Park. In conversations with Latino voters here, there were plenty of audible groans and eye-rolling in response to any mention of the upcoming election, a reflection of their frustration with the options at the top of the ticket. These are some of the voters who were part of President Biden’s winning coalition in 2020 but who have expressed reservations with his reelection bid – which is in a state of crisis after a faltering debate performance that has prompted widespread Democratic concern. And they’re the same voters another Democrat would need in the event Biden steps aside.

Even as Biden has said he is staying in the race, the Democrat who has gotten the most attention as a potential replacement is Vice President Harris, who is scheduled to return to Las Vegas for a Biden campaign event on Tuesday, marking her sixth visit to battleground state Nevada this year.

Polls have consistently shown Biden underperforming with Latino voters, a key demographic that has traditionally skewed Democratic but whose support has softened ahead of this year’s election. A post-debate New York Times-Siena poll found Biden and former president Donald Trump roughly even among Hispanic likely voters, 47 percent to 46 percent. In late June, the Siena poll showed Biden leading among Hispanics, by 14 percentage points. In 2020, exit polls showed Biden winning Latinos by 33 points.

Before Biden’s debate performance, Harris was already thrust to the forefront of the campaign’s efforts to court young and minority voters, visiting Latino-heavy cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas. Now, as speculation mounts around whether Harris could become the party’s nominee, there’s a question of whether she could energize Latino voters if she does.

But interviews with Latino voters here exposed a deep frustration and feeling that Biden hasn’t delivered on promises to tackle issues like immigration and rising cost of living – making some more open to support Trump, or not vote at all. Biden potentially exiting the race doesn’t change that, several said, tying Harris to the disappointment they feel with the Biden administration. Some said a younger candidate like Harris could better connect with younger voters of color and prioritize the issues front of mind for them. Some believe a second Trump term would be best for improving the economy for Latino families, even if they’re not fans of his anti-immigrant rhetoric. And others worry that the options on both sides don’t represent them – and won’t make a difference as their families struggle to make ends meet.

Here’s how they said they’re feeling:


“I’m an immigrant and I see that Democrats have been promising us immigration reform for years and at the end of the day we’re being ignored. I don’t believe in them. I don’t believe in the promises they make. That’s why I’m open. I want someone to earn my vote. Right now, I think Trump could offer us more than Biden.”

– David Mungia, 42. Works in a hospital. Leaning toward voting for Trump.


“Biden hasn’t delivered on everything and I would take Kamala over him. She has been very limited and he has thrown her under the bus, especially with immigration, but he was not what we voted for … I’d take her over the options we have … Now, if we had the option to do a no-confidence vote, that’s really what I’d do.”

– Biddy Adams, 42. Works in real estate. Voting for Biden but would prefer Harris.


“I support us girls and I would love to see a woman run the country but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. She’s been on [Biden’s] side all this time and nothing was done on her side either as vice president. I think people want change for our country and she isn’t that.”

– Isabella Bello, 21. Works as a server while going to nursing school. Voting for Trump.


“I’m excited to vote for the first time but it’s lame that these are the candidates we have. I’m not happy about it. I think Harris would be a better option given the fact that she’s younger. I’d have to do more research on her but better than what we have? Yeah.”

– Jason Adams, 17. Incoming high school senior. Voting for Biden but would prefer Harris.


“I would understand her better than him. She’s more with the times … and Biden stutters a lot and loses his train of thought, like me, but I’m not president.”

– Kimberly Beltran, 30. Works as a customer service representative. Voting for Biden but would prefer Harris.


“I won’t be voting for anybody at all. It hasn’t done any good. Nothing has gotten better … We try to teach our kids that if they’re going to say something, follow through on your word, but when you have these kind of leaders and they’re not doing anything of what they promise, it’s kind of hard to teach anything.”

– Jonathan Smith, 33. Owns a small business. Not planning to vote.