Democrats nervous as Republicans make headway with Hispanic voters in critical Florida

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Screen capture … Credit: KQED News

Increasing Hispanic voter support enabled key 2018 Republican victories in Florida, and that has Democrats worried. Those Hispanic votes swung the narrow election wins by Trump-supporting Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott into the governor’s mansion and U.S. Senate, respectively.

The state’s 29 electoral college votes and the now tight competition for the Latino vote are big reasons both major political parties are giving a great deal of early election-season attention to Florida.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was in Miami recently for a Young Republicans fundraiser in the country’s largest swing state. He said that the clearest trend in 2019 internal polls is that President Trump has made in-roads with Hispanic voters, according to the Miami Herald, and that he is determined to build on that momentum. He said that internal polling tells him the President is in better shape with Hispanics than he was in 2016.

“Our first coalition we’re launching for the 2020 campaign, and our largest coalition — itself almost as large an organization as our 2015 primary team — is gonna be for Latinos,” Parscale told reporters. “It’s not been finalized yet, but my goal is to launch the Latino coalition in Florida.”

A national McLaughlin & Associates poll taken in late March determined that half of the Hispanic voters approved of Trump’s performance as president.

The Herald reported …

Trump has made strong overtures to Cubans and Venezuelans in South Florida, and a key ally, Gov. Ron DeSantis, performed better than the president in Florida with Hispanic voters in 2018 despite embracing the same immigration rhetoric.

Any edge the Trump campaign can get with Latinos could help him carry the state again in 2020, when Hispanics will turn out in greater numbers and Florida could prove to be the deciding contest.

Parscale is putting a great deal of work into laying the groundwork for the Trump campaign, having made at least four visits to Florida in May alone. “We’re out in the lead right now with money, organization, in every way. It’s a must-win state,” he said.

Democrats are not sitting idly by. One large reason the party’s first presidential primary debate will take place in Miami next week is to try to get up close and personal with the state’s huge Hispanic population, with voter numbers totaling 2.2 million.

“The Trump brand and Trump personally, as you would expect, is rather toxic, but his policies are not — even the ones people would ordinarily think are anathema to Latino voters,” said Republican John Jordan, a major donor who commissioned a national Latino voter survey in May. That poll showed Trump was underwater against Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders but also indicated that a messaging campaign could improve the President’s results. Half of those polled, in fact, agree with the statement that the country is “headed in the right direction.”

Fernand Amandi, a Democrat pollster, has pointed out that “there is a statistically significant population of Hispanic voters in Florida who traveled legally to the country and agree with the president’s immigration stance,” according to the Herald.

“We’re right on the issues, we’re just not communicating it as effectively,” Miami-Dade Democrat activist Ricky Junquera said during the Dem Party’s leadership conference in Orlando last month, according to the Herald.

DNC chair Tom Perez laughably argued that Republicans aren’t running on the issues.

“We’re making sure voters understand that [Republicans] don’t have any ideas,” Perez told the Miami Herald in a recent interview. “While we’re trying to build an America that works for everyone, they’re trying to give tax cuts to wealthy people. Capitalism is at its best when it has guard rails.”

“Guard rails” in the form of heavy-handed government, no doubt.

Watch this brief video showing Florida Republicans connecting with Hispanic voters …

Video by Miami Herald


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