Democrats

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Race to Capture Puerto Rican Vote in Florida Has Begun

The Puerto Rican vote will be highly sought after in the 2018 elections but for now newly arrived evacuees are weary and wary of politics. /Maria Padilla

The race to capture the Puerto Rican vote has begun. Last week the Republican Party of Orange County held a Lincoln Day Dinner honoring and welcoming Puerto Rican evacuees to the Orlando area.

It was a warning shot indicating the state GOP aims to fight for and win over Puerto Rican voters. The Democratic Party has not uttered much despite the wave of Democrat-leaning Puerto Ricans arriving daily in Florida – over 60 percent of Puerto Rican voters in Florida cast ballots for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Very likely, however, it is salivating over the prospect of turning purple Florida permanently blue.

Over 200,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico since the start of the hurricane evacuations in October, according to the office of Gov. Rick Scott. As American citizens, each Puerto Rican over the age of 18 is eligible to vote in Florida.

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Opposition Needs a Bigger Boat

Scene from the movie ‘Jaws’ in which it’s clear the ‘opposition’ boat is too small for bagging the shark. /Universal Pictures

The opposition to the Trump administration is going to need a bigger boat. In fact, it’s going to need more than one boat.

It should be clear by now that the old order – whatever that was – is being washed away in a torrential tide of presidential actions – border security and immigration, Obamacare, ethics, sanctuary cities, environmental reviews, Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and much more.

No matter if you are pro or con, understand that the pace of the executive orders is no accident. It is a deliberate attempt to overwhelm the country in order to (a) please supporters and (b) swamp the opposition so they can barely keep up.

More than One Boat

The times require a multi-pronged approach, a real attention to detail and lots of follow up. Street demonstrations are a vital and valid manifestation of opposition. It’s your right. People need to “see” opposition because people believe what they see, creating a wave effect. That’s what we saw with the airport demonstrations.

But that’s not all.

Opposition also requires people to be in the sea weeds of policy, in the words and the actions of orders and proposed legislation. That’s what we saw with the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the immigration move in court. Some people may be more comfortable on the street than in the backroom. But both are needed on a large scale.

More than one boat is needed, to borrow a well-known line from the movie Jaws. The great, big shark is not going to fit in one boat.

Federal Agencies Become ‘Fly-Overs’

The Trump administration is engaged in a frontal attack on the Washington bureaucracy as much as it is undoing specific policies. The Trump folks are not engaging the federal agencies, creating a sea of chaos. Under Trump, the federal agencies have become “flyover country,” an area to be look down upon but not a place to land.

The Democrats don’t know how to respond, except in the way they always do – with House and Senate minority leader polite press conferences and talking points. This will not do.

Shadow Government

The British model of forming a shadow government may be a better strategy to emulate. Designate representatives or senators who will “shadow” a particular policy area, such as health care, education, environment, justice and civil rights, agriculture, etc. And go to it. Hook, line and sinker.

Hinterlands and Swamplands

The Democratic Party also needs to go on a reconnaissance mission: Visit the hinterlands and swamplands and stay out there as long as possible. Listen to how local people and organizations are mobilizing. Watch and observe. Ask questions.

It’s not a mistake that Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D) was on her home turf of New York and able to respond to the airport detainees. (Worth noting:  Velázquez and Anthony Romero of the ACLU are Puerto Ricans.)

That may have been a fluke. The Democrats have no idea what’s happening out here. And it’s clear they have no answers. At this point, they have nothing to lose – they’ve lost it all – and everything to gain.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Did Latinos Vote for Donald Trump?

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An early voting line at the Hoffner library in Orange County. /Maria Padilla

Did Latinos vote for Donald Trump? And by what margin?

Pollsters are having a food fight trying to answer that question. Expectations were high that Latinos would vote against Trump in large numbers and this would be a major factor in Hillary Clinton’s supposed victory.

Well, high numbers of Hispanics did vote and Clinton won the popular vote.

Bit Hispanic pollsters, political analysts and others have taken umbrage at the exit-poll suggestion that 29 percent of Latinos nationwide voted for Trump, stating the number is too high.

But it’s plausible.

Not Monolithic

Latinos are a mosaic of political interests and persuasions, owing to the complex demographic make-up of Hispanics – 16 or so different ethnicities, foreign-born vs. U.S. born, newcomers vs. fourth- and fifth-generation Hispanic, Spanish speakers vs. non-Spanish speakers, and more. Frankly, the nuances maintain afloat Republicans’ hope that the party can capture a chunk of the Latino vote.

In comparison, the African American vote is more monolithic and reliably Democrat. Only 9.4 percent of the U.S. black population is foreign-born, according to the census. But the Latino foreign-born population is four times that.

Of course, faith in polling went kerplunk this election cycle. Exactly how Latinos voted won’t be clear until the census provides a glimpse of presidential voting patterns based on race, gender, ethnicity and more, according to the Pew Research Center. But that is a long way off.

Numbers Crunching

Meantime, here are a few numbers-crunching nuggets – yes, based on election day and exit polls, as well as actual voting data – with a specific look at Florida.

Nugget No. 1: A lower percentage of Florida Latinos supported Clinton, versus other states.

In the Univision pre-election November poll of Latinos in Florida, Arizona and Nevada, 60 percent of Florida Latinos said they planned to vote for Clinton, the lowest percentage of the three states. Nevada polled at 72 percent, while Arizona was 67 percent. The Florida voter exit poll numbers, part of state and national exit polls conducted by a consortium of news organizations, were close.

In the Florida voter exit poll Latinos voted 62 percent for Clinton, while 35 percent went for Trump. Or, just slightly higher than the Univision poll predicted.

Puerto Ricans and Cubans

Nugget No. 2: Puerto Ricans and Cubans polled – and voted – distinctly different.

According to the Univision poll, about 71 percent of Puerto Ricans said they planned to vote for Clinton while only 42 percent of Cubans planned to do so. Meanwhile, 49 percent of Cubans planned to cast a ballot for Trump, versus only 19 percent for Puerto Ricans.

univision-fla-by-heritage

The exit poll of Florida voters showed a close correlation: 41 percent of Cubans voted for Clinton, while 71 percent of “other Latino” – presumably mostly Puerto Rican – supported Clinton. 

Miami-Dade vs. Osceola

How did Puerto Ricans and Cubans actually vote?

Using Osceola and Miami-Dade counties as proxies  – Puerto Ricans are the majority or plurality of Hispanics in Osceola, while Cubans are in Miami-Dade –  about 60.4 percent of Osceola voted for Clinton, while 63.6 percent did so in Miami-Dade, according to state Division of Elections results.

Why is the figure higher in Miami-Dade?

Very likely because the liberal non-Hispanic white vote boosted Clinton in Miami-Dade, while the opposite is true in Osceola, where non-Hispanic whites tend to be more conservative.

Rubio Breakdown

Nugget No. 3: Cubans and non-Hispanic whites pushed Sen. Marco Rubio over the top.

Looking at the breakdown in the Marco Rubio vote, both Osceola and Miami-Dade voted against the incumbent Republican U.S. senator, by nearly equal percentages, according to the state Division of Elections.

In Osceola 54.5 percent voted for Democrat Patrick Murphy, while in Miami-Dade 54.6 percent did so, according to state elections data.

In the Florida exit poll, 50 percent of Latinos voted for Murphy, while 48 percent supported Rubio.

But the split along Hispanic ethnic lines was stark.

The Florida exit poll showed that 68 percent of Cubans voted for Rubio, while just 39 percent of “other Latinos” did. Among non-Hispanic whites, 60 percent voted for Rubio.

This suggests that Cubans were more united in support of Rubio but more fragmented or divided for Clinton. Cubans and non-Hispanic whites boosted Rubio’s re-election, making up for his loss among Latinos in general – a loss likely pulled down by Puerto Rican voters. Otherwise, it would have been a slam dunk for the Cuban-American senator.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Florida Returns to Red

Trump 2
Donald Trump, shown in an earlier campaign event, turned Florida red, winning by 120,000 votes. /Trump campaign photo

Florida turned a shade of red on election night, boosting Donald Trump over the finish line with a 120,000-vote lead and 29 electoral votes, the biggest cache of any battleground state.

The vote lead is larger than President Barack Obama‘s 74,000 re-election win in Florida in 2012, but not as high as Obama’s over 200,000-vote Sunshine State margin in 2008.

Third-party ticket Gary Johnson-Bill Weld grabbed 2 percent of Florida’s vote or 206,000 ballots. That is more than double the 97,000 votes that Ralph Nader generated in 2000 which boosted George W. Bush into the White House in the 2000 elections.

The third-party vote was higher than for Ralph Nader in 2000. 

Narrow Florida Win

It was a narrow win for Trump in Florida – 49 percent vs. 48 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton – one that lays bare a very divided Florida electorate. It’s white people vs. everyone else, it seems.

It’s not that Latinos did not vote. It’s that whites voted more. Although the white share of the Florida electorate is shrinking, white voters came out to vote in droves. That made all the difference in returning Florida to red.

Florida voter turnout was high across the board, according to the Florida Division of Elections – 74 percent of registered voters cast a ballot,  a good thing.

But turnout in red counties was more decisive – 84 percent in Baker County (Panhandle), 84 percent in Sumter (The Villages), 86 percent in Collier (southwest). In Central Florida the figure was 78 percent in reliably red Seminole County. Even big-blue Volusia County turned red. How’d that happen?  

Compare that with 71 percent turnout in Orange and 72 percent in Osceola – great numbers  in any election year  – but not enough to overcome the Republican/conservative votes elsewhere in Florida.

Watch for more analysis, specifically voter demographic numbers and the mood in Florida, on Orlando Latino. 

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor