KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Candidates vying for the White House are focusing heavily on the country's fastest growing demographic: Latinos.
What You Need To Know
- Trump and Biden both hosted events in Central Florida Tuesday
- Local groups are helping their candidates to court the Hispanic vote
- Many believe the Hispanic vote is key to winning Florida in the presidential election
Supporters of President Trump hosted an event Tuesday in Kissimmee, and Joe Biden also spoke at Osceola Heritage Park in a star-studded event that included actress Eva Longoria, musical performer Ricky Martin, and U.S, Rep Darren Soto. Seemingly, both parties were reaching out to Hispanics.
“The Hispanic vote in Florida, this time around could be critical ... as it has been in many elections," University of Central Florida professor and political analyst Aubrey Jewitt said. "Florida is a very closely divided state."
Samuel Vilchez, who came from Venezuela as a teen, said he is a young Latino ready for progressive change. He’s helping launch Familias Con Biden, a Latino-focused campaign centered on Osceola and Orange counties with the goal of getting Biden elected.
“I think, at the end of the day, when I think about the values of this country, the values of this community, I think Joe Biden and Kamala Harris represent those values best," Vilchez said. “And not only that, they also have a plan to advance our immigrant communities and to ensure that our Latino community gets ahead.”
Karla Salvatierra, who came to the United States from Nicaragua 35 years ago, said she’s seen the status of her country decline and that she doesn’t want to see the same for this country. This is why she said she’s a Latinos For Trump volunteer.
“He’s helped all the minorities more than any other president, in the 35 years that I have been here. That is proof to me he's not a racist,” Salvatierra said. “And you see how he treats everybody, he treats everybody the same.”
Hispanics account for 48 percent of registered voters in Osceola County and 25 percent of Orange County's registered voters. Statewide, about 17 percent of registered voters identify as Hispanic, compared to 62 percent white, and just more than 13 percent who identify as Black.
Jewitt, who has been taking a close look at recent polls, said if Hispanics strongly decide to back up Trump, he’s got a much better shot at winning the election.
“Biden is up among Hispanics, according to this poll in Florida, but he’s not up by as much as Hillary [Clinton] was four years ago,” Jewitt said. “And we know what happened four years ago, Trump was able to win the state by a point.”