MIAMI, Fla. — Democrats are facing a problem in Florida.
In a must-win battleground with 29 electoral votes up for grabs, the critical swing state President Trump flipped by a razor-thin margin four years ago has remained the epicenter of the southern campaigns. California Sen. Kamala Harris made Florida her first stop as Joe Biden’s running mate, and Trump came to the state twice last month. Ivanka Trump visited as well. Biden even made an appearance in Florida, marking one of the few rare occasions the 77-year-old didn’t call a morning “lid” canceling that day’s campaign schedule.
There’s no path to the White House for Trump without Florida. The president can hold on to two of the three Midwestern “blue wall” battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, but would still lose the White House without the Sunshine State.
However, recent polling suggests that Democrats are having a tough time in this key southern state, where an unexpected group of voters is fleeing the Democratic Party. Hispanics, a once-reliable voting bloc for Democrats, appear to be breaking for Trump in growing numbers. Trump is expected to capture 36 percent of the Hispanic vote in November, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll conducted shortly after the party conventions. While that’s far from a majority, it’s also far higher than the president’s overperformance among this group in 2016, when the president took 29 percent of the Hispanic vote. That was better than Mitt Romney’s 27 percent in 2012 but short of John McCain’s 31 percent in 2008.
Zoom into Florida today, though, and Trump is winning among Hispanic voters 50 percent to Biden’s 46 percent, according to a recent NBC/Marist survey out last month.
An even closer look at Miami-Dade County shows where the problem lies. A Democratic stronghold carried by Hillary Clinton by 30 points in 2016, Biden leads there by 17 just percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70 percent of the county is Hispanic.
There’s a reason former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just rolled out a $40 million ad blitz to run in all 10 media markets of the Sunshine State this week, nearly half of the $100 million the former presidential candidate and New York mayor has pledged to spend on Biden’s behalf. It’s because Biden is losing.
While there’s a litany of reasons Democrats’ grip on Florida’s Hispanic voters appears to be slipping, it’s the Democratic Party’s lurch to the left that’s mostly to blame.
Horrors of Socialism Fresh Among Florida Hispanics
While the first post-revolutionary wave of Cuban migrants to the United States came several decades ago, memories of the atrocities under Fidel Castro’s communist regime remain fresh in the minds of Cuban emigres and their descendants in South Florida.
Now, some Cuban-Americans are experiencing a moment of deja vu, seeing the Democratic Party enthusiastically embrace similar socialist rhetoric and policies faithfully implemented in the very society they fled.
Irena Vilarino, a small business owner whose family owns a dozen Miami-area restaurants, is one of them. Vilarino came to the states when she was four years old, and her family first settled in West Palm Beach in 1980. The family started out selling fruit and eventually worked their way up, like many other new immigrants, purchasing their own restaurant four years later.
Today, Vilarino operates several Miami establishments with her siblings and ran for the Republican nomination in Florida’s 26th congressional district this year. Vilarino says the president who has categorically condemned the communist regimes raging across Latin America and re-introduced sanctions on Cuba has successfully tapped into the South Florida experience. His message powerfully resonates among the region’s Hispanic voters.
“When you see yourself forced to emigrate, you never lose that sense of loss,” Vilarino told me over lunch in one of her restaurants as she teared up. “You carry that with you forever… It’s a little indescribable… This is my home, but you always feel that sense of displacement.”
It’s not just Cuban-Americans who are anxious over the Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism, with promises of taxpayer-provided health care and a radical expansion of the welfare state while enthusiastically endorsing draconian lockdowns in the name of public safety. The situation in some Latin American countries has only worsened over the last decade. The decline of socialist Venezuela, for example, has become perhaps irreversible, with consequences rippling across the region.
That’s a key distinction between McCain’s support and Trump’s, Vilarino said. A recent second wave of socialist devastation under authoritarian regimes is re-traumatizing Latin American voters, many of whom see the Democratic Party using the same rhetoric deployed in their home countries.
“What happens with leftist regimes is they normalize what is not normal,” Vilarino said. “They normalize cheating, they normalize lying, they normalize stealing, they normalize envy, they normalize division.”
Black Lives Matter, But Do Hispanic Lives?
The Democratic Party has in large part become an extension of the Black Lives Matter movement, for which Biden has promised to be a vehicle. That’s a problem for many of Florida’s Hispanic voters, Miami-area Republican strategist Dave Reaboi tells me. The left’s obsession with identity politics is driving division, pushing away Hispanics who see themselves more as Cuban-Americans or Colombian-Americans, or even just Americans.
“Some Hispanics may see the Democrats’ explicit appeals to racial tribalism as alienating, necessarily pitting Hispanics against African-Americans,” Reaboi said.
The left-wing woketopians now running the Democratic Party are running on the logic that all minorities are against the white “cis” majority, victims of wealthy oppression in a systemically racist society, when in fact many Hispanic voters have become very successful within a generation or two of arriving in the United States, embodying the American dream.
Through their blanket demands for reparations and the destruction of free enterprise, the Black Lives Matter movement has tried to include Hispanics in its narrative that the United States was founded on slavery and oppression, even though many Hispanics have arrived in the United States long past slavery and even Jim Crow, and have had a very different experience than black Americans.
Hispanics in South Florida, who have risen from abject poverty to prosperity, have also actually lived through real oppression.
Attacking Law Enforcement Means Attacking Hispanics
More than half of the sworn officers serving in the Miami Police Department are Hispanic, according to the latest public data. That means every time a police officer gets attacked, there’s a good chance the victim is either Hispanic or possesses a significant personal connection with the Hispanic community.
The left’s glorification of thuggery, amplifying historic animosity towards police in the name of social justice, has only further alienated Hispanic voters. John Cardillo, a law enforcement analyst with strong ties to the south Florida law enforcement community and a former police officer, began his career with the Miami Police Department. Cardillo said he’d be hard-pressed to find an institution more integrated with the community then the police. He says he saw more interracial marriages among police than anywhere else, tying the Hispanic population that much closer to local law enforcement.
So when “Democrats [are] refusing to acknowledge that Antifa is a real thing,” Cardillo said, referencing the domestic terrorist group targeting police, it only pushes Hispanics away.
Latinx Is ‘An Absolute Insult’
An August study from the Pew Research Center shows just one in four Hispanics has ever heard of the term “Latinx,” the politically correct alternative to “Hispanic” or “Latino.” Further, only 3 percent use it.
It’s the type of passive pointless progressivism that infantilizes Hispanic voters, and it’s increasingly common in the Democratic Party. Cardillo says it only frustrates Hispanic voters, who see it as self-serving rhetoric from condescending politicians.
“I think it’s an absolute insult,” 28-year-old Anthuan Rubbio told me in the parking lot of a local brewery. “It’s ridiculous. It’s Latina, Latino, Latinas, Latinos. Like, that’s what it is.”
Rubbio said he’s frustrated with the victimhood mindset the left has imposed on Hispanics consistent with the soft bigotry of low expectations, a common grievance among south Florida Hispanics. Cardillo emphasized that’s partly why Trump has resonated with Hispanic voters. The president speaks to them as equals, he says, not a group that requires special assistance.
“No Latin wants an X next to their name, it just sounds dirty,” Vilarino said with a chuckle before making a serious point about the message it sends when Democrats lump Hispanics together as a special-needs group:
This is one of the things that you lose. You lose your identity. For instance, a person from New York is very different than a person from Texas, right? Yet, they’re both American, right? But they’re different cultures. So a person from Mexico is very different than a Cuban, which is very different from a Colombian, who is very different from an Argentine. And yet here we’re all lumped together. But it’s bad enough that we’re lumped together, you know? And the good thing about that, you know, here, we become one as a culture. As a Hispanic, Latin culture. But now they want to put an X next to our name. We don’t want it. Tell them to save it.
Democrats are on track to lose the Hispanic vote in Florida and therefore the state, pending no change in the party’s anti-police platform and proposals to form the same society many Hispanics and their families have just fled.