Florida Democrats are concerned about Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s rising popularity among Hispanics, saying they are increasing his chances of becoming the first Republican governor in 20 years to win traditionally Democratic Miami-Dade County and, therefore, thus, boosting his chances of a presidential bid in 2024.
Miami-Dade, the most populous county in the state with its load of Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians and Nicaraguans, is 70% Hispanic. The last time a Republican governor won Miami-Dade County was Jeb Bush in 2002. Unlike DeSantis, Bush surprised by holding press conferences in fluent Spanish. His wife was born in Mexico.
But DeSantis is an “outlier” among Republican governors, Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based Democratic pollster and consultant, recently told NBC.
“DeSantis is outperforming here in a way that maybe other Republican candidates don’t match up elsewhere with Hispanics,” he said.
ek ruled has raised more than $174 million in campaign funds, a staggering figure for any gubernatorial candidate. his opponent, Democrat Charlie Crist It has raised far less. Many of the donors are looking at DeSantis as a possible presidential candidate for 2024.
Florida Democrats have expressed frustration and anger over their limited resources and money from national donor groups. Some feel that the Democrats ceded Florida to the Republicans after their loss in the 2020 election.
“If Ron DeSantis wins the Latino vote in Florida, which has been a Republican project for the last decade, you can go to the donors and say ‘I can win the presidential nomination and I can beat the Democratic nominee in 2024 because I can win the Latino vote.’ said Democrat Devon Murphy Anderson, co-founder of the voter registration organization Mi Vecino.
Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County by nearly 30 points in 2016, but President Joe Biden won the county by just 7 points, though he never paid much attention to it, instead securing victory in other states.
When Clinton won, “Republicans saw that and instead of raising their hands, walking away from the county and saying this will always be a blue base, they doubled down on their investment there,” Anderson added.
Mi Vecino co-founder Alex Berrios stressed to the AP that the Democratic Party in general has not done a great job of consistently messaging Latinos about its successes, including “articulating what Joe Biden has done to lower drug prices.” gasoline, all the investment in infrastructure” that is benefiting the region.
Berrios and Anderson said they have had more than 2,000 conversations with Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade. Adding to the strong enthusiasm for DeSantis among Republicans, about 29% of those with no party affiliation and 25% of Democrats said they would vote for DeSantis.
According to Berrios, when voters tell him they will vote Republican because of the economy, he asks them what has improved in their job or income in four years with DeSantis as governor, and “they usually don’t have an answer,” he said.
Some of DeSantis’s policies have generated controversy and generated national headlines, including his support for the Parents’ Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics, and his recent decision to send two full planes with mostly Venezuelan refugees to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
But in this detail something curious happened. Except on rare occasions, Venezuelan activists and organizations in Miami-Dade, and they all support DeSantis, did not have the slightest stance of solidarity with his compatriots.
For Samantha Ramírez, director of communications for Crist, DeSantis is a “false ally of our community, someone who smiles in your face but turns around and threatens to take Cubans by bus to Delaware and spends his time transporting the asylum seekers across the country to score political points. He acts like the very dictators our communities fled from, which is why Floridians are ready to back Charlie Crist.”
But those stances, supporters say, have contributed to DeSantis’ popularity.
Republicans have even improved their margins with Puerto Rican voters leaning more Democratic and having lower DeSantis approval.
Luis Figueroa, 35, came from Puerto Rico in 2017 because of the economic situation there and settled in the Orlando area. He now works in real estate, he said that when he first voted he was an independent and he voted for a Democrat. He then changed his registration to Republican.
“He’s a guy with common sense, he’s conservative,” Figueroa said of DeSantis, “and the financial policies he’s put in place have been one of the most favorable policies to make Florida a place where businesses can be successful.”
He said some Democrats around him are splitting their vote for DeSantis. Her uncle, a Democrat, has a sign for DeSantis outside his house, but another for Democratic Rep. Darren Soto and a second for a Democrat running for a school board seat.
Still, for many Latinos, DeSantis is not an option. Cuban-American David Enriquez, 25, a Democrat and health care union representative organizer in Miami, says democracy is important to him.
“Many of us have had to flee our home country due to the breakdown of the rule of law, whether it is a dictatorship of the left or a dictatorship of the right,” he said. “DeSantis has embraced ‘the big lie,’ which I think is, in the short term, one of the biggest threats to American democracy.”
Enriquez said that the Republican Party has a failed economic policy and refuses to accept the climate change disaster that is imminent for a state like Florida.
In 2018, 44% of Hispanics in the state voted for DeSantis, according to the Pew Research Center.
But even before that election, Trump had already begun to win over Latinos in the state, with an unprecedented level of direct engagement with Latino voters. Especially within the Cuban American electorate of Miami-Dade County.
When the 2020 presidential election rolled around, Trump carried the state and the GOP won two House seats and five state seats.