How Hispanic Voters Swung Miami Right - Press "Enter" to skip to content

How Hispanic Voters Swung Miami Right

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“We used to be more compassionate,” said Carmen Peláez, a Cuban-American playwright and filmmaker who campaigned for Mr. Biden.

Some reckoning took place over the summer, when it became evident that relatively few Latinos, especially Cuban-Americans, were showing up at local protests against police brutality that mirrored others across the nation, causing consternation among more liberal Hispanics.

Then in July, Eliécer Ávila, a Cuban dissident, posted a photograph on Instagram showing himself and other Trump supporters posing in front of Miami shrine to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint, with their middle fingers in the air. (The target of their disrespect was unclear, but the overall message was not.)

In the days leading up to the election, members of the Proud Boys, a group linked to white supremacy, campaigned openly at Miami-area polls, and some of them, including the organization’s chairman, Enrique Tarrio, were Cuban-Americans. Mr. Tarrio was also the Florida state director for a grass-roots campaign group, Latinos for Trump, that was unaffiliated with the campaign.

Nowhere in the country do Hispanics control the levers of power as they do in Miami, and voters do not behave as they might in other places where their ethnic group is more marginalized, Dr. Bustamante said. Traditional “Latino” issues such as immigration, combating racism and identity politics often take a back seat to concerns over the economy, religion and foreign policy.

About 72 percent of registered Republicans in Miami-Dade are Hispanic, many of them Cuban-American. But the Hispanic vote in the region more broadly is a combination of aging Cuban exiles, newer Cuban immigrants and various waves of immigrants from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and Central and South America. Non-Cuban Hispanics make up about half of the Latino vote in Miami-Dade, and they tend to lean Democratic.

Mr. Trump’s campaign succeeded in South Florida for understanding many of those complexities, as well as for a variety of other reasons: He visited often. Republicans effectively branded Democrats as “socialists.” A vast misinformation campaign targeted Spanish-speaking voters. Mr. Biden failed to reach out to Hispanic voters until it was too late.


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