MIAMI - Latinos say they are skeptical of federal authorities' response to the coronavirus, but they generally support provisions in the new financial stimulus bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a new national poll released by Democratic-leaning organizations Wednesday.
The survey, conducted May 10 to May 16 by the research firm Latino Decisions, was commissioned by the nonprofits UnidosUS, SOMOS and the progressive advocacy group MoveOn. Polling in all 50 states - including over-samples in Florida, Arizona, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Illinois and California - Latino Decisions found a little more than half of the 1,829 Latinos surveyed nationwide agreed that the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic is the most important issue for them, followed by lowering the cost of health care.
When asked if President Donald Trump was giving accurate or helpful advice on COVID-19, Latinos across the country gave him an average score of 3.27 on a scale of zero to 10. And 39% of those asked gave Trump the worst score possible, a zero.
Still, among Latinos in Florida, the amount of trust placed in the information provided by the president was slightly higher than in other states, with Trump awarded an average score of 4.11. And on the president's overall response to the pandemic, about 48% of Florida Latinos approved, while 52% said they disapproved - slightly lower than the 56% disapproval rate the poll found nationwide.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received higher marks when Latinos were asked to rate how much they trusted DeSantis on providing accurate and helpful information on the outbreak. About 44% rated their trust in the Republican governor between 7 and 10.
Florida also had one of the highest percentages of Latinos who say the federal CARES Act stimulus aid did not go far enough - 71%, which is higher than the national average of 66% of Latinos who said the same thing.
"I think the Latino community, particularly in South Florida, had given Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt in the beginning of this crisis and you can tell by the findings of this poll that the farther we get into this, the less trust that there exists for his leadership and judgment, in this case," said Henry Munoz III, co-founder of SOMOS Community Care and a former finance chairman with the Democratic National Committee.
The Trump campaign on Wednesday dismissed the legitimacy of the poll as painting all Hispanic voters with a broad brush, and criticized presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's policies toward Latin America during his time as President Barack Obama's vice president.
"While Biden continues to insult the Hispanic community in Florida by embracing and empowering tyrannical regimes like Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and the Cuban Castros, President Trump values our community as he has stood strong against socialist tyranny at every turn," said Andres Malave, a Republican National Committee spokesman specializing in Hispanic outreach.
Nearly half of those polled - 49% - said they identified as Democrats, a reflection of Hispanic voters' liberal bent. Another 18% said they were affiliated with the Republican Party, and 15% said they were independents.
Participants were surveyed in English and Spanish. The overall margin of error is 2.3% plus or minus the final results and slightly higher, 6.3% plus or minus, for the individual states.
The poll is the latest evidence that Latinos feel strongly disadvantaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is an opportunity to take the data and focus on what we can do, from my perspective, in Congress to provide additional resources and support for the Latino community," Katherine Cortez Masto, a Democratic U.S. senator from Nevada, said Wednesday on a conference call to discuss the poll.
While 84% of Latinos in Florida said they themselves or someone they knew had tested positive for coronavirus, a significant portion of the Latino population in the state, 34%, said they or someone they know who experienced symptoms could not get tested.
"That's really important because we are the people that have kept this country moving," said Munoz.
"We're still going to work. When you get something delivered to your door chances are that our hands have been involved," he added.
Latinos across the country also gave high marks to some of the provisions in the new stimulus bill on its way to the U.S. Senate, the HEROES Act, which Republicans have publicly derided, including aid to undocumented immigrants who pay taxes - with 85% saying they approve of it.
About 87% said they supported extending work authorization for previous recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program for unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as children, and the Temporary Protected Status, which gives temporary work permits and relief from deportation to immigrants from countries experiencing turmoil or other humanitarian crises.
When asked if they thought Congress should include funding for states to provide vote-by-mail ballots or absentee voting for those who do not want to vote in person, 84% of Florida Hispanics polled said it should be included and 16% said it shouldn't.
(Miami Herald staff writer David Smiley contributed to this report.)
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