How Arizona Latinos rate Biden and Trump on the border: From the Politics Desk (2024)

Welcome to the online version ofFrom the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition,national political reporter Ben Kamisar breaks down our latest focus group with Arizona Latino voters who are down on Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Plus, senior political reporter Jonathan Allen looks at the message Nikki Haley is sending Trump after she said she would vote for him.

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How Arizona Latino voters rate Biden and Trump on the border

By Ben Kamisar

A new focus group of Latino voters in Arizona illustrated why the border has become such a political mess for President Joe Biden.

Former President Donald Trump’s tough talk on immigration and the actions he took while in office did not come close to winning unilateral praise from the dozen participants in our latest NBC News Deciders Focus Group series, produced in collaboration with Engagious, Syracuse University and Sago.

The focus group specifically recruited participants who had soured on both Biden and Trump, an important swing cohort in a critical battleground state.

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But from their vantage point, many saw clarity on the issue from Trump compared to a struggle by Biden to control immigration. One participant called Biden’s border policies a “hot mess.”

“Even if we disagree with the way Trump went about specific things with his border control, he did something, at least, about it,” said Melissa G., 43, of Phoenix, who’d back Robert F. Kennedy Jr. if given the chance or Trump if not.

The RFK Jr. factor: Overall, the focus group participants were so turned off by both major-party nominees that more said they would vote for Kennedy in a five-way race that included Jill Stein and Cornel West than any other candidate. Kennedy has yet to qualify for the ballot in Arizona, but the super PAC supporting him says it has gathered enough signatures for him to do so.

“I definitely would not be voting for Biden — he doesn’t match up with any of my beliefs,” said Nicole G., 39, of Glendale. She said she “had a really hard time voting for” Trump in 2016 and ultimately did so because he “lined up with a lot of our beliefs and morals and values as a family” and because she hoped he would grow into the office.

“And then as a president, I was ashamed that I had voted for him,” Nicole G. continued. “He’s a reckless leader that should never be in leadership, so there’s no way I can vote for him again.”

Abortion ballot measure: Arizona voters are also likely to decide on an amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution this fall. Few focus group participants showed a clear understanding of the current abortion laws in the state, but even those who said they were personally “pro-life” expressed concern about allowing the government to restrict access to abortion.

“I’m going to teach my daughters what I believe is correct, and hopefully they abide by that. But at the end of the day, they’re going to do what they’re going to do,” said Enrique M., 48, of San Tan Valley, who said he’d vote for Trump.

“Do I want them to go to jail because they violated that? Probably not,” he said.

Read more from the focus group here →

The message Nikki Haley is sending Trump

By Jonathan Allen

Donald Trump can take Nikki Haley — and most of her voters — for granted.

That’s the message Haley sent yesterday when she said she will vote Trump, even as she argued the opposite.

“Trump has not been perfect on these policies. I’ve made that clear many, many times,” Haley said after a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., in which she excoriated Democrats for wavering support of Israel and Republicans for wavering support of Ukraine. “But Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump.”

Then, Haley encouraged Trump to do precisely what he didn’t do to win her vote.

“Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech,” Haley said. “Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they’re just going to be with him.”

But NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard and Ali Vitali reported Thursday that Trump hasn’t talked to Haley since she dropped out of the race in early March. He didn’t have to call or write or say nice things about her from a podium. Haley had nowhere else to go if she wanted to preserve her political viability.

She called Biden a “catastrophe.” By using her speech to detail the peril she believes he has brought to the U.S., she did more than create a permission structure for her voters to line up behind Trump. Her condemnation of Biden was so harsh that she practically implored them to fly MAGA banners from the flagpoles on their well-manicured lawns.

This should come as no surprise to Trump, who — having employed her as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — predicted correctly that she would fall in line. Nor should it have shocked Biden, whose campaign is well aware that the vast majority of voters retreat to their partisan corners in general elections.

But in each of the last two elections, the outcomes were decided by tens of thousands of voters across a handful of states. If this episode plays out the same way, every vote will matter.

So even if Trump can take Haley and most of her voters for granted, it would be a mistake for him to ignore them completely. There’s a part of Haley’s base, including those who voted for Biden last time, that Democrats will fight for between now and November.

Trump doesn’t have to persuade Haley of anything, but he’s going to have to counter Biden — perhaps using some of the same talking points Haley delivered yesterday.

🗞️ Today’s top stories

  • 🤫 Behind the scenes: Trump's allies are quietly getting involved in fights over who will serve on the committee to set the Republican Party's national platform, with the goal of avoiding staking out ground that’s too far to the right on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Read more →
  • 🪧 Protesting over protests: The Republican National Committee is demanding that the Secret Service director personally get involved to move a planned protest zone farther away from the site of the party's convention in Milwaukee this summer. Read more →
  • 🔜 Let’s circle back: Trump has a history of kicking the can down the road when he has been pressed to clarify his stances on significant policy issues — a habit that tripped his campaign this week on the issue of birth control. Read more →
  • 📝 Border battle: The Biden administration is finalizing details of a new executive action that would let the president temporarily shut the southern border to migrants if necessary. Read more →
  • 🗺️ Mapquest: The Supreme Court ruled that Republicans in South Carolina didn’t unlawfully consider race when they drew a congressional district in a way that removed thousands of Black voters, keeping the state’s map in place for the 2024 election. Read more →
  • 💻 Combating deepfakes: An Arizona GOP legislator used ChatGPT to help craft legislation about artificial intelligence-driven impersonations that Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs signed into law. Read more →
  • ⚖️ Combating deepfakes, cont.: Steve Kramer, the political consultant who admitted to NBC News that he was behind a robocall impersonating Biden's voice, has been indicted in New Hampshire and fined $6 million by the Federal Communications Commission. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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How Arizona Latinos rate Biden and Trump on the border: From the Politics Desk (2024)


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