OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — In the 2020 election, Republicans were expecting a red wave across the United States. While that did not materialize nationally, Florida proved to be an outlier.
Leading the red shift in the Sunshine State: Hispanic voters.
While conventional wisdom assumed that Hispanic voters were far more Democratic-leaning, recent trends in Florida have shown the voting bloc moving to the right. While this may be cause for celebration for Republicans and cause for dread for Democrats, experts say don’t assume Hispanic voters are solely in one camp or the other.
“It’s very much an up-for-grabs vote moving forward. It’s not been solidified by recent gains in any stretch,” said Stephen Neely of the University of South Florida’s School of Public Affairs.
Neely attributes the recent shift in Hispanic voters to better messaging on the part of Republicans, but perhaps more importantly better engagement with specific issues in specific communities.
“One of the things they’ve done is they’ve very kind of effectively targeted and tailored their messaging to the anxieties that are kind of happening back home, so to speak, particularly from for immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, where they’re using the language that kind of remind, you know, they’re kind of painting Democrats or framing the Democratic agenda in that language that reminds them of kind of the worst case scenarios back home,” Neely said.
In 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis carried two majority-Hispanic counties on his way to reelection: Miami-Dade and Osceola. For years Republicans have been dedicating resources to these areas, focusing on engagement, and reaching out to Hispanic voters.
Most notably, in 2018, then-governor Rick Scott made a concerted effort to court Puerto Ricans fleeing the island after Hurricane Maria. These efforts paid off with Scott narrowing his margins in the Osceola County region.
“Engagement is key. Name recognition, of course, is part of what he was building when he was doing that. So those are those are key factors. The reality is that Floridians are not Floridians as a whole. And I think the Hispanic community in Florida is not so dramatically more conservative than they are liberal. It’s a moderate population of voters,” Neely said. “The truth is that Republicans are just winning the ground game right now, they’re winning it decisively. They’re much more organized. They have much better engagement and outreach strategies.”
Even still, Hispanic voters are largely unaffiliated and may begin to drift back toward the Democrats or continue to move into the Republican camp.
CLICK HERE for the original article by WFTV.
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