The Florida Democrats’ lesson for California: Don’t take anyone’s support for granted

(Jim Cooke/Los Angeles Times; Photo via Getty Images)

The Florida Democrats’ lesson for California: Don’t take anyone’s support for granted

Elections 2024, California politics

Ziema Mehta
Believe E. Pinho

November 16, 2023

Alejandro Rodriguez, a Nicaraguan supporter of former President Trump, wanted to make it clear that he is against opening the borders.

The way I see it, if I have my door open, anyone can come in and out. The same goes for borders, Rodriguez said as he sold hats that read “Latina


for Trump”


outside a Trump rally in this 96%

Latino Spanish s

last week from the city of Florida.

Rodriguez, who is no


citizen, cannot vote for Trump in next year’s elections.

But his support for the leader

ahead in polls

The 2024 Republican presidential nominee is highlighting a challenge for President Biden and other Democrats: They cannot take anyone’s support for granted. That includes Latinos, not just in Florida, but everywhere, even in parts of California, who could help determine control of Congress.

In 2024, every voter should be treated as a decisive voter, Ana argued

Bank Pelez

the co-founder and executive director of Miami Freedom Project, a group that aims to increase voter turnout and promote progressive politics among Miami’s Latino population.

What we do in Miami, what we do in Florida


is what both parties need to do nationally, he said


, a registered Democrat. They need to make sure they treat everyone as a vote of conviction and communicate to voters where they stand.

New polling in the 2024 White House contest shows Latino voters in particular are less enthusiastic about Biden than they were four years ago and are backing Trump in greater numbers


The former president, who launched his 2016 campaign by saying Mexico is sending rapists and other criminals to the United States, won support from 42% of Latino voters in six battleground states in a New York Times/Siena College


released earlier this month, although other recent studies have shown this

are Latino

support at lower levels.

Florida in particular worries Democrats. Although Cuban Americans have historically been more conservative than Latinos in the rest of the country, Florida used to be a swing state, with Democrats counting on the support of these voters to compete here.

Then Trump won the state twice, and Gov. Ron DeSantis dominated in his 2022 re-election bid, capturing 62% of the Latino vote in Miami-Dade County and becoming the first Republican in two decades to win the area.

The 2022 results have Democratic strategists concerned. If their support here could dwindle so dramatically, it could happen


in Arizona, Nevada or even parts of California?

The states and their Latino populations are vastly different. Most Latinos in Florida are of Cuban or Puerto Rican descent. Many Latinos in California, where Democrats dominate the state’s voter rolls, are of Mexican descent. But politicians who make assumptions about whose support they can count on can lose anywhere.

Florida Democrats admit they took key voters for granted.

We haven’t done a good enough job of gaining the trust of our Hispanic communities by going out there and talking to our voters,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Nikki Fried told reporters in Miami last week. “Making sure we understand their priorities, making sure we understand their interests and why they came here to Florida and America to begin with.”

Immigration was a recurring theme at Hileah’s stadium, and Trump’s push for open borders earned him wild applause from the crowd. His tough immigration policies are a feature, not a bug, for many of his Latino supporters.

The fastest growing segment of Latino voters is the US-born. That’s fundamentally different from 20 years ago, says Mike Madrid, a Republican Party political consultant who has studied this voting bloc for decades. So the problems that caused this twenty years ago, such as immigration, are no longer as inspiring as they used to be. That’s a big part of why I think Democrats missed the shift to the right. And the state where they missed this the most was Florida.

For those in Florida with a Cuban or Venezuelan background, the Republican rhetoric labeling Democrats as socialists has been particularly striking, said Madrid, who will soon release a book titled The Latino Century. In 2020, he added, a multi-generational anti-communist bloc among Cuban Americans really caught Democrats flat-footed.

They significantly misjudged the Latino vote, he said.

Even the state’s


Democratic Puerto Ricans reliably shifted to the Republican Party, Madrid said.

“They won against the Puerto Ricans, which for me is a much bigger shock,” he said. “That’s generally a 75/25 Democratic vote. … That was largely unforeseen.”

Visits from Democrats like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio


who came to Florida to preach socialism’

according to real estate agent Christopher Jorge Lazaro

helped topple Miami

Dade red last year.

These words that they heard in Venezuela, that they heard in Cuba, that they heard in Nicaragua, that they heard in Argentina, no one wants to hear that. Because it always ends in catastrophe, Lazaro said,


the son of a Cuban immigrant

who attended the Trump rally from nearby Sunny Isles Beach

. You hear the same things, only in English.

These issues may not matter to all Latino voters. But inflation, gas prices and the cost of living affect everyone. And while the Biden campaign points to statistics showing that the country’s economy is healthy and unemployment is low, many voters, regardless of background, don’t feel this when they fill up their gas tanks or run errands.

Ashley Fuentes, 29, an independent voter, has cast ballots for Democratic presidential candidates every cycle since she was old enough to vote and is disturbed by last year’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down federal protections for abortion rights. But she doesn’t know if she will support Biden next year.

She recently bought an apartment in Coconut Grove, a leafy, chic neighborhood in Miami, near Biscayne Bay. But she can’t fathom buying a house in the future because of housing costs and interest rates.

Even if you make what I once considered a lot of money, like $200,000, you really can’t afford what you thought would be a reasonable house for a family of four, the IT worker said. The past eight years have been very chaotic.

Fuentes suspects that Democrats are planning to renominate the 80-year-old Biden because they want to stay in power, but she worries that “he is getting too old to make decisions that literally impact the world.”

Fried, the state’s Democratic chairman, said that while some of her party’s losses in Florida have been due to misinformation, Democrats have learned lessons from the shift among the state’s Latinos.

“I take responsibility for this,” she said.

State Democrats’ new priorities include “making sure we get back to basics.”


…talking to our community members, and most importantly, listening to what’s on their minds and not trying to push an agenda, she added. And we’re clearly trying to overcome the misinformation and disinformation that has been poured out against Democrats here in Florida.

The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee have deployed elected Latino officials in the US to promote the president’s message and aim to enroll many of the millions of Latinos who have turned 18 since 2020. The president’s campaign also launched Spanish-language ads in Florida during the campaign. Last week’s GOP debate in Miami and Trumps gathered nearby, highlighting his administration’s investments in small Latino businesses, resistance to dictators and the expansion of Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelans in the United States .

But experienced Democratic operatives still worry.

Democrats need to take this very seriously. Hispanic voters are telling us we’re not doing enough for them, says Paul Begala, a former adviser to President Clinton and leader of super PACs for President Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. They’re falling away from us and Democrats need to back down. and they. I take it very seriously.

If you feel a twinge in your chest, it could be heartburn or a heart attack, he added. My advice would be to go to the doctor, stop eating bacon and stop smoking.


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