The Hispanic Vote in Florida

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Donald Trump’s controversial proposals for the immigration policy and the bad things he says about immigrants should result in an overwhelming defeat in Florida for the G.O.P.’s Presidential candidate, due to weight of the Hispanic electorate in the Sunshine State. The complexity of the American political system, however, defies the basic logic.

Recent polls show the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, ahead of Trump in Florida, but the former Secretary of State seems to be underperforming the results achieved by President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Some analysts suggest that a victory that is supposed to be easy for Mrs. Clinton could turn into a challenge during the campaign.

Hillary Clinton speeches in CHCI’s 39th Annual Awards Gala, in Washington

Having 29 votes in the Electoral College, Florida is one of the most important swing states. Although one should expect that the weight of the Hispanic electorate would swing in favor to Mrs. Clinton, the Latino community in Florida is kind of different from other states.

According to Andrés Oppenheimer, a columnist for The Miami Herald, one of these differences is the fact that most of Floridian Hispanics have Cuban and Puerto Rican origins – in both cases, they have the right to American citizenship and, therefore, tend to be less concerned about immigration policy.

Mrs. Clinton still holds a 5 point lead over Mr. Trump in Florida, according to a Monmouth University Poll released on Sept. 20th, less than the 9 point lead she held in a poll taken by the same institution in August. Among voters likely to participate in the presidential election, 46% back Clinton and 41% support Trump, compared to Monmouth's August poll which had Clinton at 48% and Trump at 39%.

Besides the decrease in the lead over Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton looks like less popular than President Obama among Hispanics. A poll conducted by the Democratic public opinion firm Bendixen & Amandi in conjunction with the Republican firm The Tarrance Group, shows that Mrs. Clinton should win over Mr. Trump among Hispanic voters by 53% to 29% in Florida. But in the 2012 election, Mr. Obama had 60% of the Hispanic electorate.

“What has decided the elections in Florida in the recent cycles is the growth and the swing of the Hispanic electorate. Barack Obama won Florida in 2012 and in 2008 because of a change in the Hispanic vote,” says Fernand Amandi, director of Bendixen & Amandi International. “Even if Hillary Clinton is doing well, she’s not doing as well as she should. It is still early to say, but she needs to do better to win Florida,” adds Mr. Amandi.

According to the Democratic strategist, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is weaker than Mr. Obama’s in 2012. “She only began with ads in Spanish last week in Florida, while Obama started in March of the election’s year,” says Mr. Amandi.

Read more (in Portuguese) about the Presidential campaign in Florida here.