The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Latinos hard in Arizona, Florida and Texas, while increasing their interest in political participation and motivating them to vote in this year’s presidential election, according to a survey released Wednesday by UnidosUS and Latino Decisions.

“Latinos have suffered a more intense impact since most Latinos cannot work from home,” said Orson Aguilar of UnidosUS in a teleconference.
Sylvia Manzano of Latino Decisions said that “nationally 60-64% of Latinos who had a job have lost it.

The study’s findings, the pollsters said, show how critical federal unemployment benefits are to Latino households, and the need for “robust, modern state-level unemployment insurance systems.

The survey was conducted among 400 adults in each of the three states from July 14-24 by the two organizations, which have already announced their support for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

With 90 days to go before the national election, most polls indicate that former Vice President Biden has a more than 10 percentage point lead over President Donald Trump, who will seek re-election as head of the Republican Party.

In November, some 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote, and activist groups are making efforts to increase the participation of these citizens. In the most recent presidential election, only about 50 percent of eligible Latinos voted.

Given the presence of strong Latino communities in Texas, Florida and Arizona, that participation could be decisive in the appointment of members of the Electoral College that will determine the next presidential election.

The survey by UnidosUs – formerly the National Council of La Raza – and Latino Decisions found that nearly half of those interviewed in the three states have applied for unemployment benefits as a result of the pandemic, and “a large majority in all three states have used those benefits for basic needs such as food, utilities, mortgage and rent.

“Even with the federal unemployment benefit of $600 a week, a majority of households indicated that the benefits do not compensate for income losses and that they still do not have enough money to cover their needs,” the report added.

“Outdated systems of unemployment insurance at the state level have made matters worse, as indicated by most respondents,” the report said. “Only 44 percent of respondents in Arizona and Texas, and 23 percent in Florida, were able to obtain benefits after filing their first application.

Manzano said that many Latino workers have not applied for unemployment benefits because they did not know they were eligible, and those who applied online had to repeat the application several times before getting a response.

“In Florida, 43% of those who applied for unemployment benefits had to repeat the application two or three times before getting a response,” he said.

The experience of the pandemic has intensified the political interest of Latinos, and “most of them in the three states are motivated to vote in 2020 after they have lost jobs and suffered salary cuts.

According to these groups among Latino respondents in Arizona, Biden has a 29 percentage point lead over Trump, in Florida 15 percentage points and in Texas 28 points.

A Latino Decisions poll in July found that 59 percent of potential Hispanic voters are determined to vote in November, including 65 percent of Latinos in Arizona, 63 percent in Florida and 57 percent in Texas.

Nationally, according to that poll, 58 percent of Latino voters have a negative opinion of Donald Trump’s presidential administration, while 57 percent have a favorable opinion of Biden.

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