An earlier version of this article was published in the On the Trail 2024 newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox on Tuesday and Friday mornings here. To submit a question to next week’s Friday Mailbag, email onthetrail@deseretnews.com.

Hello, friends. My condolences to all whose brackets are already busted. (I picked my BYU Cougars to the Elite Eight — pain.) Even Barack Obama’s bracket looks good compared to mine.

The Big Idea

Who will win the Latino vote?

Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris made stops in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, pitching Latino voters on the Biden administration’s victories. This week, it was President Joe Biden himself who swung through the West. In Phoenix, the president set up a lectern inside a Mexican restaurant and announced a new initiative: Latinos por Biden y Harris, Democrats’ newest effort to win over the Latino vote across the country.

It’s not an entirely new effort — Biden won 60% of the Latino vote in 2020, and he launched a series of Spanish-language ads last fall — but the timing is notable. Earlier this month, after an onslaught of poor polling, a New York Times/Siena College poll delivered a gut punch: Biden is currently losing among Latino voters by six percentage points to Trump.

Now, the poll should come with several asterisks. Latinos make up just 15% of the electorate, so the margin of error is a whopping 10%. And as Adrian Carrasquillo and others noted, only 3% of interviews among the poll’s Hispanic voters were done in English — significantly narrowing the Latino sample.

But the poll made waves nonetheless. The Trump campaign unleashed a series of celebratory news blasts. Conservative commentators pointed to the result as a continuation of Donald Trump’s upward trend among immigrant groups, starting in 2020. Trump surrogates began recycling a catchy 2020 Trump ad, featuring a Spanish-language merengue song.

The Biden campaign is now locking in. “I need you back,” Biden said at the Phoenix restaurant Tuesday. His campaign dropped a new Latino-focused ad in English, Spanish and Spanglish, with “regional accents across battleground states,” a news release said. The Latinos por Biden y Harris initiative will have regional chapters throughout the country, pushing for grassroots organizing among Latino and Hispanic groups. Expect efforts to be concentrated in Latino-heavy swing states like Arizona and Nevada.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is getting in on the push, too, launching a variation of his uncle’s Viva Kennedy! platform — the first strategic Spanish-language campaign initiative in U.S. presidential politics. Kennedy is hosting a Cesar Chavez Day celebration in Los Angeles next week.

A note: it’s important to remember that the “Latino vote,” as much as it is discussed as a bloc, is not a homogenous group. A plurality of U.S. Latinos are of Mexican descent, but not all. The majority of adult Latinos living in the U.S. were born in the U.S. And among origin groups, there is significant political diversity. Immigrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia are often conservative, while other Latino national groups often lean liberal.

Nonetheless, campaigns often target Latinos in the aggregate — and, in turn, exit polling and post-election prognosticators study them alike. Pre-election polls — like the NYT one referenced earlier — often contain sampling errors. The Latino vote, as we saw in 2020, is often an enigma until Election Night.

This week, though, we received an early data point: in the Ohio Senate Republican primary, a Colombian immigrant, Bernie Moreno, played up his American dream story en route to securing the Republican nomination. Some analysts call it a win for Republican Latinos. Other say it’s a one-off election in a state with a low Latino population. “Latinos are just the next set of swing voters,” Julio Ricardo Varela wrote for MSNBC.

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Weekend reads

Trump is brash. His followers know this. Trump often pokes fun at his political rivals. His followers know this, too. But what about the times Trump takes callous shots at those with disabilities? An interesting look at the human side of politics — and how far we sometimes go to numb ourselves from it: What Trump Supporters Think When He Mocks People With Disabilities (John Hendrickson, The Atlantic)

Our national debt is a problem, the Senate acknowledged Wednesday. It’s a “threat to the national security of the United States,” a unanimous Senate resolution declared, and future deficits are “unsustainable, irresponsible, and dangerous.” But will Congress do anything about it? That remains to be seen. The National Debt Is a National Security Issue (Eric Boehm, Reason)

Year of the deepfake: It’s very possible that the 2024 election will be marred by “deepfakes,” or AI-created video or audio. We’ve already seen shades of it — fake radio ads mimicking the voices of Nikki Haley and Joe Biden have been created (and subsequently debunked). But Congress has moved slowly on regulation, leaving it up to a patchwork of state-level regulations, including in Utah. States are racing ahead of Congress to regulate deepfakes (Charlie Guo and Timothy B. Lee, Understanding AI)

Editor’s Note: The Deseret News is committed to covering issues of substance in the 2024 presidential race from its unique perspective and editorial values. Our team of political reporters will bring you in-depth coverage of the most relevant news and information to help you make an informed decision. Find our complete coverage of the election here.