Nevada polls on working class, Hispanic voters highlight 2024 battlefield
In 2016, Donald Trump’s presidential victory was powered by the support of a constituency historically aligned with the Democratic Party — the working class. In 2020, Joe Biden defeated Trump through an electoral coalition that despite attempted Republican inroads relied heavily on Latino support — particularly in Nevada, where he won 60 percent of the Latino vote.
Since that election, winning back white working class voters has remained a consistent focus for Democrats, while attracting Latino voters (outside of Florida) has become key to the Republican Party’s electoral strategy.
A pair of two polls recently conducted in Nevada — one focused on working class voters and the other on Hispanic voters — provides a snapshot of where these voter blocs stand this fall and outlines strategies for how to make durable gains among these key populations ahead of a 2024 election that has both major parties eying Nevada.
And despite the partisan leanings of the pollsters, the results indicate that Hispanic voters in Nevada continue to favor Biden and Democrats, while the working class (or voters without a college degree) as a whole continues to trust Republicans more on economic issues.
NV working class voters say GOP better on economic issues
The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) commissioned a YouGov poll that was conducted between Oct. 17 and Nov. 6 of 454 voters and has a margin of error of 6.2 percentage points. The poll found that working-class voters — nearly three-quarters of Nevadans — overwhelmingly believe that they as a group are worse off today than they were 40 years ago.
Voters polled said they trusted the Republican Party more than Democrats to handle issues such as the economy, immigration, and education, each by a double-digit margin. The only issues Democrats were favored on were combating climate change and managing the clean energy transition, with the parties essentially tied on the issue of respecting democratic institutions and elections.
In 2022, exit polling from CNN showed that Republican Adam Laxalt won 50 percent of voters without a college degree to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s 46 percent.
Pollsters identified some bright spots for Democrats. Though Republicans were favored on economic issues, the poll found that culture war issues and crime do not appear to resonate with voters — strong majorities said they are concerned about politicians’ focus on banning books (59 percent expressed concern) and restricting abortion (59 percent), while issues such as banning gender transition surgeries (24 percent) and increasing police and prison funding (33 percent) garnered little support.
And the poll found that Republicans’ hold on the working class is not absolute. Despite shifts to the right, 43 percent of respondents said the Republican Party represents affluent Americans’ interests, while only 29 percent said the same of Democrats. Republicans were functionally tied (40 percent )with Democrats (38 percent) on which party put working class interests first.
Hispanic voters still up for grabs in Nevada
Meanwhile, GOP-aligned Cygnal polled 300 Hispanic voters in Nevada from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12 with a margin of error of 5.57 percentage points. The poll found Democrats maintain advantages, but there are “glimmers of opportunity” for Republicans, particularly among younger Hispanic voters, pollster John Rogers said in a statement.
Trump and Biden are underwater with Hispanic voters in Nevada. Biden’s favorability is at 45 percent, while Trump is at 33 percent — though still higher than leading GOP hopefuls Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, both with favorability around 27 percent.
In a head-to-head, Biden beats Trump among Hispanic voters 50.3 percent to 36.9 percent, with 12.7 percent undecided — a significant advantage, but also well behind the 60 percent he won in 2020.
The poll also suggests that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a former Democrat who plans to run as an independent, could be a spoiler. If Kennedy is included, he garners 15.8 percent of the Hispanic vote — and draws much more support from those who would otherwise pick Biden in a two-man race, despite national polling suggesting his presence hurts Trump more. Biden’s percentage of support falls nearly eight points with Kennedy included, while Trump only loses about four points.
Hispanic Nevadans listed inflation and the economy as their top concern (36.4 percent) — an issue that Republicans hoped to (but were unable to) capitalize on in 2022 races. The issue of threats to democracy came in second at 15.6 percent — a bigger concern for Hispanics in Nevada than their counterparts in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
The poll found Hispanic voters in Nevada trust Democrats more on every issue but the economy, where the parties are in a dead heat, separated by 0.1 points. Democrats have massive advantages on abortion (a nearly 35-point difference) and education (19.8 points).
The poll — like recent election results — throws cold water on the notion that Hispanics will move to the Republican Party on purely social conservative merits. But based on the overlapping importance of the economy to these groups, both pollsters note the need to streamline and present an effective economic message to carry the state.