The numbers are in. How many Hispanics are registered to vote in the August 30 primaries? The figures, calculated by the state Division of Elections, are encouraging.
Hispanic voter registration has climbed in all of Florida since the March presidential primary, with Hispanic Democrats up nearly 9 percent, the highest of any major party registration. That compares to a nearly 6 percent increase among Hispanic Republicans and nearly 4 percent for Hispanic no party affiliation or NPA.
Historically, primaries and mid-term elections – or any election that occurs in a non-presidential year – sees a big drop off in Hispanic voters. Thus, it’s unclear whether the higher Hispanic registration will translate to an uptick in voter participation in the August 30 primaries.
Some notable observations:
• There are more than 3X as many Hispanic Democrats than Republicans in the Orange-Osceola-Seminole county region, an indication of how Latinos are changing the face of Central Florida political parties as well as their potential for determining election outcomes. (The trend holds true for the state as well. )
• There are more Hispanic NPA voters in Central Florida than Hispanic Republicans. This is also true for all of Florida. Hispanics voters may need to reassess their preference for NPA status since NPA voters cannot cast ballots in party primaries, where many elections are decided.
For instance, the Democratic winner of the Congressional District 9 primary – State Sen. Darren Soto, Susannah Randolph, Dena Minning Grayson or Valleri Crabtree – essentially will be that area’s next representative in Congress. That’s because Democrats predominate in Congressional District 9 and the Republican field is weak.
Yet, Hispanic voter registration in Congressional District 9 looks like this: 193,000 Hispanic Democrats, 136,473 NPA and 139,318 GOP. Which means 136,473 Hispanic NPA voters cannot weigh in on that or any other primary election.
Central Florida’s Hispanic voters are mosty Puerto Ricans, since that is the group that predominates among all area Hispanics – 50 percent or more, in fact.
In all of Florida, Latinos are:
• 11.3 percent of all Republican voters.
• 16 percent of all Democrat voters
• 22 percent of all NPA voters. Again, Hispanics signal a higher preference for NPA status.
Although the number of registered Latinos is up, bear in mind that over 2.5 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in Florida, but only 1.8 million are registered. About 28 percent of Hispanics are not registered, which means there is room to grow.
A quick look at Miami-Dade shows that:
• The number of Hispanic Democrats is approaching that of Republicans, 230,517 vs. 267,881. And growth rate among Hispanic Democrats vs. Republicans in Miami-Dade mirrors that of the state, 8 percent vs. 3 percent.
Which means it’s entirely plausible that Hispanic Democrats in Miami-Dade may soon surpass Hispanic Republicans.This is bad news for Republicans, since the days of Hispanic GOP dominance in Florida are waning.
A big BUT: A lot depends on voter turnout. Hispanic Republicans often are more motivated to vote than Hispanic Democrats, a determining factor in election results.
Despite what is happening at the state level, however, Miami-Dade will continue to be dominated by Hispanic Republicans. About 53 percent of all Hispanic GOP voters in Florida reside in Miami-Dade. This explains why in the March presidential primary Sen. Marco Rubio lost the entire state of Florida – except for Miami-Dade.
His lack of popularity among non-Cuban Hispanics also helps explain why Rubio appears to be spending more time in Central Florida lately. He was at Telemundo’s Feria de la Familia this weekend in Kissimmee. And the Senate Leadership Fund’s July $1.4 million ad buy for Rubio (broadcast and cable) focused on Central Florida:
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor