Joe Biden before a roundtable in Florida. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is turning its focus to Puerto Rican constituents this week, planning policy rollouts and in-person meetings as polls show his soft support with Hispanic voters in some crucial battleground states.

Why it matters: Both sides are fighting in the lead-up to the election to split the Hispanic vote. President Trump is going for Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American voters, while Biden tries to appeal to the growing number of Puerto Ricans on the mainland.

  • Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but they're not allowed to vote in general elections if they live on the island. They become eligible to register and vote if they relocate elsewhere in the U.S.
  • Biden leads Trump by 33 points with Puerto Rican voters in Florida, per an August survey of registered Latino voters in the state commissioned for Equis, a Democratic Latino research firm.
  • Their polling also shows the president has a 17-point advantage among Cuban-Americans in Florida.

The big picture: Democrats are targeting the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who've relocated to places like Florida and Pennsylvania after Hurricane Maria decimated the island in 2017.

  • They're hoping to use Trump's handling of that natural disaster, his rhetoric about the island and its mayor, as well as COVID-19's disproportionate effect on the Latino community as part of their message.
  • Meanwhile, a Trump campaign ad in Spanish shows videos of Biden and other Democrats side-by-side with communist or socialist dictators like Cuba's Fidel Castro or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as a ploy to attract those voters who fled those governments.

Driving the news: The Biden campaign released a "recovery, renewal, and respect for Puerto Rico" plan just before his Hispanic Heritage Month event in Florida on Tuesday evening.

  • Biden's Florida visit — his first since accepting the Democratic nomination for president — included a stop in Kissimmee, a heavily Puerto Rican city in the Orlando area.
  • "I am going to work like the devil to make sure I turn every Latino and Hispanic vote," Biden told reporters yesterday in Delaware. He added that his numbers with Latinos are “much higher" than Trump's. "But they gotta go higher.”
  • The Democratic Party is buying cell phone data for U.S. residents with Puerto Rico's 787 area code to better target potential voters who've left the island.
  • Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, said on a Sunday call with senior Biden campaign officials and reporters that they've identified 80,000 numbers in Pennsylvania and 300,000 in Florida.
  • Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, met with Venezuelans — whom Republicans are targeting by billing Democrats as "socialists" — during her visit to Florida last week.

Go deeper: Biden adviser on Hispanic vote: "We know we have work to do."

Go deeper

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