Florida politics are complicated. What we have learned from the midterms and the Hispanic factor part 2.
Excerpt: When Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico devastated in 2017, almost 400,000 of the island’s residents moved to the mainland. Many of them landed in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) administration set up welcome centers in airports in Orlando, Tampa, and Miami.
Plenty of political observers thought the Puerto Rican diaspora would be a political boon to Democrats. Unlike Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans tend to vote pretty heavily for Democratic candidates.
But there’s a sign that Puerto Ricans might have rewarded Scott’s warm welcome. Scott took 42 percent of the vote in Osceola County, a Democratic bastion south of Orlando where President Trump took just 36 percent of the vote two years ago.
More Puerto Ricans moved to Osceola County, about 22,000 than to any other county in the country, except neighboring Orange County. Miami-Dade County was the third-most common destination for Puerto Ricans. Scott outperformed Trump in all three counties — and those votes alone gave him the margin he needed to beat Sen. Bill Nelson (D).
Did Puerto Ricans send Rick Scott to the Senate? There’s an argument to be made.
Bottom Line: In part 1 of today’s story I walked you through the broad generalizations that have proven to be false thus far in Florida’s political history. More Hispanics equal to Florida flipping blue. In part 2, I want to revisit a point I mentioned prior to the election including this exchange on November 3rd.
Sound familiar? The story aptly points out that Puerto Rican strongholds were less blue this election cycle, despite large increases in population compared to 2016. Rick Scott not only was a likely beneficiary but as I also pointed out in the story, Ron DeSantis might well have crossed the finish line a winner because of that improvement as well.
The moral of the story is this. Politicos and pollsters will continue to miss Florida for as long as they continue to generically poll “Hispanics” and weight whoever it is they get ahold of for polling. Florida has defied the conventional wisdom for many cycles and is a template for the rest of the country. Hispanics aren’t just some group of voters who’ll fall into their political box the way that many Democrats and media types want. Many simply want a better life like the rest of us and most have a better perspective on what this country has to offer than multi-generational Americans.
Photo by: HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images