HOUSTON - Latino voter enthusiasm is up, according to a recent poll by the University of Houston's Center for Mexican American Studies.
"There is a lot of enthusiasm among the Latino electorate, not only at the national level but also in Texas," said Dr. Jeronimo Cortina with the center.
Nationally, 78% of Latino voters said they will certainly vote and 13% said they will probably vote. Among Latino voters in Texas, 76% said they will certainly vote and 14% said they will probably vote.
Cortina says that is up from substantially from a year ago.
"We have never seen these numbers so dramatically increase," he added.
He notes, last month, 68% of Latinos 18-to-29-years-old responded they will definitely vote. He says that is a 10% increase from a year ago.
What has also increased is Latino support for Vice President Joe Biden. Cortina says it has almost doubled since Super Tuesday.
"Biden had 23 point lead [then], and now that lead has become 41%," he told FOX 26.
The poll suggests the pandemic played a major role.
"Latinos that were polled who have been affected by COVID-19 are four times more likely to support the Democratic candidate," Cortina pointed out.
According to the Pew Research Center, this year, Latinos will be the largest ethnic or racial minority group in the U.S. electorate with 32 million Latinos projected to be eligible to vote. In Texas, more than 30% of eligible voters are Latino.
However, given the electoral college and historically low voter participation rates, Cortina says the Latino electorate will likely have more influence in local and state elections.
"We don't know if it's going to materialize or not but the enthusiasm is there," he concluded.