The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday April 12th

Column: Why Biden needs young Latinx voters

<p>Frank Porter Graham School during election day in 2018.</p>
Buy Photos Early voting for lieutenant governor and many other state elected officials ends Saturday, Feb. 29. Election day is Tuesday, March 3 in North Carolina.

With the 2020 election around the corner, presidential campaigns are making their final attempts to secure votes — especially those from the Latinx community, which is projected to be the largest minority voting block for this election.  

As a result, campaigns have rapidly shifted their focus onto young Latinx voters. 

Mónica Gil, executive vice president and chief administrative and marketing officer at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, told USA TODAY that young Latinos are essential to the success of any presidential candidate. 

“Any person who wants to get into an office cannot win without young Latinos supporting them,” she said. “One million young Latino voters will become eligible to vote, every year for the next 10 years.”

Chuck Rocha, former senior adviser to Bernie Sanders, said on MSNBC that he’s worried about the disconnect with these young voters. To combat that, his PAC will be dropping three million pieces of mail in Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. 

“I’m so worried that Joe Biden and his team is not getting that mail out to them, so I’m going to do it myself with Nuestro PAC,” he said.  

According to a survey from BuzzFeed News and Telemundo, 71 percent of Latinos are motivated to vote due to the response of COVID-19 — yet 33 percent of young Latinx people could not name a political leader that has “shown up” for the Hispanic community.  

Although enthusiasm for Biden is low, disapproval of Trump is high among young Latinx voters. 

In that same survey, 60 percent of Latinos ages 18 to 34 said they would cast their ballot for Biden while only 19 percent say they would vote for Trump.

When I ask myself what political figure best represents the Latinx community, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez automatically pops into my mind. I think, “Eh, Julián Castro, maybe.”

But honestly, I think Bernie Sanders did a great job of connecting with young people. He met with popular celebrities, utilized social media (we know we have all used that meme) and invested in Spanish-language newspapers. I remember how exciting it was to see him come to campus last year for his rally.  

In early 2020, Sanders got a great deal of Latinx support, and once he dropped out of the race, Biden should’ve immediately tailored his campaign to target young Latinx voters that supported Sanders. 

If the Biden-Harris campaign really wants to secure our votes, secure the election and raise enthusiasm, they need to make better strides in connecting — playing “Despacito” at a Hispanic Heritage Month event is not going to cut it. Outside organizations should not be the primary investors into the largest minority voting block. There needs to be more collaboration and connection with Latinx leaders and icons from this campaign beyond just pandering. Simply banking on the community's disapproval of Trump is a dangerous move to make. 

The Biden-Harris campaign should harness the power of social media, and address Trump’s war on TikTok to effectively reach young Latinx voters. The campaign should also utilize real stories from the Latinx community, highlighting how Trump’s lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their lives — especially as these young people have seen loved ones and family members die.  

Step up, Joe, or watch these people step out. 

@oliviamrojas

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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