Sandra and Benny Chande have been happily married for 33 years, emigrated from Uruguay in the 1980s and are Fans of the Miami Dolphins.
But Benny, 60, said there are two issues that the couple, who live in Weston, Florida, don’t debate at home: sports, because they already support the same team, and politics, because they couldn’t disagree less.
Sandra, who is 54 and has voted for Democrats since the 1990s, said she is “praying to all the Saints” for Joe Biden to win in November.
“I would vote for a stone to get Trump out”, he said, citing his pejorative comments about Hispanics and immigrants.
Benny, meanwhile, has been a Republican since Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He believes President Trump tweets too much and might be more tolerant, but plans to support him for his management of the economy, among other issues.
“I vote Republican with my eyes closed,” Benny said.
In 2020, Sandra and Benny Chande are far from the only Hispanic man and Hispanic woman to watch the election in completely different ways.
In an election where many Democrats are nervous that Biden is doing poorly with Hispanic voters, especially many Cuban-Americans, veteran pollsters, and Latino experts say the Democratic nominee’s problems are disproportionately concentrated among Hispanic men. These voters do not consider themselves fervent trump supporters, but they are willing to ignore their potential failures given to the president’s economic policy.
Biden performs better with Hispanic women
The gender gap is an often overlooked detail that they believe should shape the understanding of both campaigns about the Hispanic vote as they enter the final weeks of the contest. They believe it could change the outcome between Biden and Trump in Florida and other critical states, where decisive battles will be fought.
Driven by a big gender gap, Iowa is tied with six weeks until Election Day. 47% of likely voters support Trump & 47% say they support Biden. Another 4% would vote for someone else and 3% are unsure. In 2016, Trump beat Clinton by almost 9.5%. https://t.co/Epe8WWkD3P
— Robert Gibbs (@Robt_Gibbs) September 22, 2020
“The gender gap has been one of the most important findings we’ve discovered in our polls over the past year,” said Stephanie Valencia, co-founder of Equis Research, a firm that specializes in Latino voter polls.
Valencia emphasized that although Biden performs better with Hispanic women, his campaign still has work to be done to make sure they go out to vote.
But the possibility of a significant section of Hispanic men voting for Trump is real, equis’s investigation shows. In a series of polls in key states, he found a considerable gender gap, with a majority of Hispanic men supporting Biden in general, but indicating that they were more open to considering Trump as a candidate.
In Arizona, which is a ‘pendulum state‘, an Equis poll found that 40% of Latino men indicated they would support Trump, while 55% said they would support Biden. Meanwhile, 69% of Latino women supported Biden, while 19% supported Trump, showing an astonishing 35 percentage point gender difference.
In North Carolina, Equis found a similar 34-point gap, and in Nevada, he found a 23-point gap. In each of the three states, which are battlefields in the presidential election, only 20% or less of Hispanic women said they would respond to Trump, while about a third or more of the men said they would vote for him.
The gender gap turned out to be smaller in Florida, where the Cuban-American vote represents a higher proportion of the total Hispanic electorate than in other states. But even there, the men supported Biden (50% to 40%) significantly less than women (56% to 35%)
“For so long, we don’t look at gender division among Hispanics”
Said Michelle Mayorga, who led the polls for Equis. “We saw them as a monolith.”
Over the past decade, the gender gap between white voters has received considerable attention from strategists and experts as men align with the Republican Party and women with the Democratic Party. That dynamic has only intensified in the Trump era.
Among Hispanics, however, that division has gone unnoticed, even when pollsters say it is arguably the most important demographic division within that community.
“It’s really just the gender gap where Hispanics act more than white voters than as a minority group traditionally more aligned with Democrats“, said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster and analytics guru who has worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott.
His own polls, Wilson added, show a slightly larger gap between Hispanic voters than among white voters.
An Economic case
The reasons Hispanic men are more open to Trump are innumerable, pollsters say. Compared to Hispanic women, they are less likely to feel repelled by the president’s rhetoric and not see their position on immigration as a decisive factor. For one thing, they don’t tend to be very ideologically liberal either.
But their support for Trump is based primarily, they say, on the belief that the president has driven an economy that can help them find work that pays well.
“Hispanic men don’t like Trump, but they’re open to Republicans when it comes to the economy,” Mayorga said.
Trump has made his economic strategy a focal point in his re-election campaign, even after the pandemic left millions of people, at least temporarily, unemployed. Polls show that some voters, including some Hispanics, disapprove of the overall president’s performance, but still believe he would do a better job running the economy than Biden.
It’s a message that has resonated with voters like Edward Santiago, a 49-year-old Man from South Florida who describes himself as a lifelong “moderate republican.” In 2016, he voted a Republican, but he did not vote for president.
But Santiago, who is Puerto Rican, said he “is not a Trump follower as such,” but that he is “90% sure” that he will vote for the president. He thinks Trump has better public policy when he comes to taxes, citing the 2017 legislation Trump signed to cut corporate and individual taxes. That’s reason enough to back Trump even though the voter admits that some things Trump does are “disgusting.”
“I think it has a better economic platform than Joe Biden‘s,” Santiago said.
Some Hispanic Democratic officials say that when Trump exaggerates the state of the economy, some of his male counterparts are attracted to it because they hope to achieve the same level of personal success as the president. But because Trump’s vision is often hypermasculinized, in his opinion, it is not as effective at attracting women’s support.
“They’re selling the success, aren’t they?” said Joe Garcia, a former Florida Democratic congressman. “And they’re selling a mutated, sexist version of the hit celebrities, which is the same thing Donald Trump is selling to white trash across the country. Look at me, I’m a billionaire, I married my lover and I still have family.”
It’s not too late for Biden
Democratic officials like Valencia and Mayorga say that while Hispanic men collectively so far support Trump more than they would like, Biden’s campaign should still aggressively pursue their votes until November.
Mayorga, the pollster, said that because many Hispanic men do not have a personal affinity for Trump and in many cases have heard very little about Biden or his political platform, there is an opportunity for the Democratic candidate to win their votes.
“The difference with gender division with Latinos, unlike the division we see with Anglos, is that Hispanic men are generally more persuasive,” Mayorga said, citing the president’s pandemic response or details about Biden’s economic agenda that could resonate with Hispanic men. “That’s why we need to talk and communicate with them.”
However, he emphasized that Democrats still cannot ignore Latino women, who are statistically highly unlikely to support the president, but who could stay out of the election if Biden’s campaign fails to reach them.
Six weeks after the election, Biden has a relatively narrow but significant advantage over Trump nationally and in key states, according to most presidential race polls. That’s even amid some Democrats’ concern that their performance among Hispanic voters in general is poor.
But Valencia says he fears that advantage may disappear if Biden begins to lose support among some of the moderate white voters, including the elderly and suburban dwellers, where he has made progress. And he’s concerned that he won’t be able to properly consolidate the Hispanic electorate.
“Margins aren’t comfortable right now to make me feel like we can lose undecided white voters and still win the election,” he said. “It would make me feel much more comfortable if [Biden] increased his advantage with Hispanics.”
Regardless of the upcoming election, the Chande adhere to their golden rule: not to mention politics at home.
“The secret to not fighting is not to talk about it” Benny said.
Sandra said she has to resist the temptation to talk when the latest News from Washington appears on television.
“We changed the subject”, joked Sandra. “Because really if we started talking about politics, we got divorced.”