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.
A new reality is beginning to set in one week after the presidential election. The country appears to be poised to tear at the seams after a divisive presidential election filled with hateful rhetoric.
Here are some ironies and random thoughts.
• The same people who rail about John Mica losing his congressional seat to inexperienced newcomer Stephanie Murphy say nothing about the entire country being run by an inexperienced Donald Trump-come-lately.
About 22 years ago Mica was a freshman congressman. We have all been freshman – in high school, perhaps in college. We like to think we all start at the bottom and work our way up, but that’s not true. Here’s a solid example: Trump, a man who has held no elected office, represents a special kind of dispensation, a special kind of affirmative action.
But it’s funny how things work out. Mica’s name is being bandied about as a potential Transportation secretary, allowing the 70-odd year old to spend many more years as a Washington insider, bringing home the pork we all hate, except when it’s for us.
Off to the Races
• The dust hasn’t settled and already Seminole people are actively recruiting a Republican opponent to run against Murphy in 2018. Although I disagree, here’s a true confession: Democrats, this is how you win elections – by recruiting early and often. But I see in this shades of then Senate Minority Leader (now Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell stating that his job was to make sure Barack Obama was a one-term president. Obstructionism followed. A reminder to all of what McConnell said this past week about the GOP sweep, “Elections are not forever.”
• Republican State Rep. Bob Cortés, just re-elected to a second term in Tallahassee, is one name bandied about to challenge Murphy. Cortés won by about 52 percent each in the two-county, Seminole-Orange House District 30, a respectable showing considering that Orange is decidedly blue. Cortés, of course, is Hispanic – Puerto Rican, to be exact. If he were to run for Congressional District 7, it would be a Trojan horse candidacy aimed at dividing the Latino vote. That’s exactly what happened when he challenged incumbent Karen Castor Dentel for his first term. The fact is, many Hispanics are eager to see other Hispanics in office and will cross party lines to do it. Hence, the promise of a Cortés’ candidacy to keep the GOP’s hope alive.
Flattery May Get You Somewhere
• To all the GOP people who say they’re not interested in running for Mica’s old seat: Stop it already. Just stop. It rings false. Marco Rubio said no to Senate re-election until he said sí. Plus, political flattery can make anyone think they can walk on water. Only the strong survive.
• Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been elevated to be “the new Dick Cheney.” My friends, there is no comfort in that, no comfort at all, considering how Cheney and his inner circle got us into a bad war. Are they saying that Pence is Trump’s brain?
• America almost went crazy this year because Malia Obama may have toked on a joint at a festival with friends. It blew over when folks realized, hey, Baby Boomers are legalizing pot everywhere. Oops! But imagine if Malia or First Lady Michelle Obama had nude photos all over the Internet as Melania Trump does? Would lightning and thunder ever cease?
• Europe: Spare me the lecture and condolences. I’m not having that from the Brexit people. Same goes for Colombia, whose voters nixed a peace agreement with the FARC rebel forces. Nope.
Thanks But No Thanks
• Thank you but no, I ain’t wearing no safety pin on my lapel, meant to indicate that the wearer might feel in danger in this new America because of their religion, nationality or other status. The Democratic Party truly is bankrupt if this is the best Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida can come up with.
I know a lot of people who feel anxious, myself included, due to the election outcome and 15 months of Trump campaign smack talk. Will he really do this or that? I’ll wait for the evidence. If you really want to do some good, go volunteer some place.
• Stop the bawling already. The election was a true shocker, and for no one more than Donald Trump and fellow Republicans who expected a loss. But they broke it and now they own it. Trump is looking positively frightened – and chastened.
A recent news story stated that Trump told Chris Christie he didn’t expect to last beyond October 2015 in the GOP primary season. But he outlasted everyone – including 16 other Republicans far, far, far more qualified than he – and won squarely if not fairly. Don’t boo-hoo; instead, do something. Trump, in true fashion, won’t be chastened for long.
• To protest or not to protest? It’s your Constitution-given right to free speech and freedom of association. Go ahead, if it makes you feel better or if you must. But protest without an end game or action is … bawling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.