US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris
US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris AFP

NEW YORK CITY - As several reports and polls keep showing Biden's struggle to appeal to the Latino electorate, his campaign has been making extra efforts to reach this demographic.

These have included giving a lengthy sit down interview with Univision last week, especially considering he has avoided doing so with other national news outlets, and placing ads on content heavily consumed by the group such as ESPN Deportes and LaLiga.

At the same time, both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have conducted several Hispanic media interviews during respective swings out West last month, according to Politico.

"I think that Latino voters know how much is at stake," said Michelle Vargas, the Biden campaign's Latino engagement director. "But there is an information gap. Our job on this campaign is to reach folks and connect the dots.

Biden's recent interview in Univision also follows an appearance by former President and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump on the network.

The Biden-Harris campaign has also invested $30 million in a spring media buy, using a mix of Spanish-language accents as well as Spanglish, which tends to resonate with young Latino voters.

In Allentown, Pennsylvania, which is home to a sizable Puerto Rican community, they've run ads delivered in a Puerto Rican accent. They've also released ads targeted to Cuban and Venezuelan populations in Florida, and Mexican voters in Nevada and Arizona.

But when it comes to campaign outreach, media and news outlets are not the only strategies employed by Democrats. Biden's campaign has begun using a new app called Reach to connect with Latino voters. Similarly, they have launched an operation called Latinos Con Biden-Harris, much earlier than past Democratic presidential campaigns.

They also have a series of Spanish and English organizers on the ground, and plan to maintain a bilingual presence in battleground states over the next seven months. The Reach app, for instance, feeds voters a regular stream of pro-Biden content and messages that volunteers can personalize and text directly to their friends.

Fellow Democrats see these aggressive tactics as the reelection getting serious about a potentially fatal political program, Politico analyzed.

"This to me seems like a campaign that's saying, 'Holy shit, we've gotta get out, and early, and we have to be in front of people," said Lorella Praeli, the Latino vote director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. "My hope is that they're really using a surround sound strategy."

Biden won 63 percent of Hispanic voters in 2020. But several studies have shown that Hispanic voters are moving away from the party, including in key battleground states. The president himself recognizes this issue. During a recent trip to Arizona, he told Latino voters "I need you badly. I need the help. You're the reason why— in large part— I beat Donald Trump."

There is also the worry that a third candidate, namely Robert F. Kennedy Jr., could divide the electorate. One poll from Democratic group Equis Research showed Kennedy performing surprisingly well among Latino voters in a dozen battleground states.

"The third party candidate factor plays a really important role here. It's not just Biden v. Trump for Latino voters," Praeli said. "And there's also a very real appeal to Latino voters to stay home. There are very active interests at play in trying to demobilize this space."

The outreach rollout has also been presented with some criticism. After the launch of a voter outreach event in Coral Gables, longtime Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago wrote the article "Three gringos in Coral Gables launch Biden-Harris Latino campaign (Sad trombone.)"— criticizing the rollout. She also noted that all the major introductory speakers were all white.

Regardless of criticism, campaign strategists recognize the challenges ahead, but also dismiss the idea that Trump will have a chance at winning the Latino vote. They believe that the lack of Republican infrastructure will harm the former president.

"There's a zero percent chance that Trump is ahead with Hispanics. Zero percent. We're not as far ahead as we should be. And we're working on it. But we're not losing support," Matt Barreto, who's leading polling on Latinos for the Biden campaign told Politico.

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