The dramatic increase in the Hispanic population in Central Florida is significantly impacting voter registration, with Latinos now accounting for the largest group of voters in Osceola County.
That would mean Osceola is behind only Miami-Dade in percentage of Hispanic voters in Florida, which is a major feat.
Hispanics total about 75,000 or 43 percent of Osceola voters, while non Hispanic whites comprise 72,000 or 41 percent as of February, according to the state Division of Elections. As recently as 2012, non Hispanic white voters outnumbered Hispanics in Osceola by about 10,000.
The flip in numbers is very likely due to the accelerated migration of Puerto Ricans to Osceola from the island and other states. Hispanic registered voters jumped 27 percent in the county from 2012 to 2016.
Between 2005 and 2014, the Puerto Rican population zoomed more than 82 percent to nearly 92,000 in Osceola. The county has the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans in the state as well.
Orange and Seminole also experienced dramatic boosts in Latino voters. Orange has seen its Hispanic voter numbers increase 21.5 percent, compared with 2012 while Seminole experienced a 17.6 percent expansion.
All of which is to say that the Hispanic boom is going to have an effect on the outcome of the November elections because Latinos make up a greater share of all Central Florida voters and they nearly always turn out in larger numbers during presidential election years, compared with nonresidential or midterm elections.
County Hispanics as Percent of All Voters
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor