Florida: a battlefield that no candidate wants to lose

Donald Trump returned to the Farc, narco-terrorism and chavism on the target of his campaign attacks so as not to lose the Latino vote in Florida, a key state to stay in the White House.

Bogota, October 13, 2020 (El Espectador)-. Without the Latin vote, there's no White House? The 2020 presidential election could become the first elections in which Latinos will represent America's largest racial and ethnic minority group. A record 32 million people in this community are projected to be eligible to go to the polls, accounting for 13.3% of the total eligible voters, according to the Pew Research Center. Hence the question about the importance of your vote is not just any one. Indeed, in the 2012 election, Barack Obama took 71% of the Latino electorate, which was decisive in reaching the White House.

Florida is undoubtedly one of the key states to win the U.S. Presidency, not only for the 3 million Latinos eligible to vote there, but because the state is well known as a hinged state, where there is no clear advantage for any candidate. In 2000, Florida gave George W the win. Bush, and in 2016 victory in that state cleared the victory for Donald Trump.

The Latino vote

Precarious jobs, low wages, quality in education, violence, and even decisions by governments on duty in some Latin American countries are driving migration to the United States, a phenomenon that doesn't stop over the years. Hispanics in the country reached 60.6 million in 2019, up from 50.7 million in 2010. Even in 2019, they accounted for 18% of the U.S. population compared to 16% in 2010 and only 5% in 1970, according to the Pew Research Center.

Mexicans accounted for just over 60% of the country's total Hispanic population in 2018, with 37 million people in the United States. Puerto Ricans continue with 5.8 million and then six other Hispanic groups with just over a million people in the country: Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians and Hondurans. Hence the Latino vote began to make a difference in some regions of the country: five states housed two-thirds of all eligible Latino voters in 2018. California alone (7.9 million) has about a quarter of the Latino electorate. It is followed by Texas (5.6 million), Florida (3.1 million), New York (2.0 million) and Arizona (1.2 million), according to the same research center.

"There are 1.2 million Colombians in the United States, according to the census. 33% live in Florida, or we're talking about about 400,000 people. Now, to this we must add that, at best, 50% have registered to vote. However, historically Hispanics in the U.S. vote at a very low rate, between 46 and 49%, so Colombians themselves have no higher incidence," said Eduardo Gamarra, an expert in South American politics at Florida International University.

Argument similar to that of Nestor Orduz, former Deputy Director of Migration Colombia and expert on migration issues, who added that Latino election practices are a mirror of what is happening in Latin America, as only 54% of them came out to vote in the 2016 US election. "Many of the social, political and economic practices in the countries of origin also migrate to fate, which in this case is the United States. We are talking about uprooting governments and trust in public policies and politicians; that's where the reflection is," Orduz said.

"This does not mean that Colombians are more important than Venezuelans, for example. When there is an election to be defined between 1 and 2%, 10 thousand votes may count. In 2000, George W. Bush won the Florida election by 537 votes," Gamarra added.

What is the trend of the Colombian electorate?

"In Florida, the influence of Uribism is very great, a good part of the Colombian diaspora came to the United States after the war on drugs, so a relatively conservative population is perceived," said Eduardo Gamarra, an argument that coincides with that of Nestor Orduz: "Many of the Colombians who left migrated in the 1980s and possibly at the end of 2002 , after the economic crisis. Some of them were affected by armed conflict, so they have a perception that the United States is an allied country that can support the fight against drugs."

An influence that reached such an extent that Miami-Dade County, where Florida's largest colony of Colombians is, officialized a project to name one of its streets as Alvaro Uribe Way, in honor of the former president.

The importance of the fight against drugs has set up a message with which Trump is trying to cut Democratic margins in South Florida. Less than 20 days after the election, the representative's campaign published a video pointing to Joe Biden as the "candidate of Castrochavism." Images of Cubans Raúl and Fidel Castro, and Senator Gustavo Petro, also appear. "Biden betrayed the Nicaraguans, gave millions to the Castros, turned his back on the Venezuelans, and hand to Maduro. With Trump we will defeat the Castrochavistas," the video says. And not only is it a message to Colombians, Trump used the same speech in the first presidential debate. "Your party wants to become a socialist and they're going to dominate you, Joe. You know that," the representative said.

Speech that shares a part of the electorate: "We don't want socialism to get into the United States, and Biden is with the Socialists, with Venezuela. As for the health crisis, the president managed to sustain the economy in the pandemic and with it we will get out of this. There's another important factor, and it's medicine, I think Trump is going to support us for better coverage," said Fernando Salcedo*, a Colombian in Fort Lauderdale.

This is not why Democrats lose part of the Latino electorate, even Gamarra added that there is also a majority ID with Joe Biden's party. And the polls don't say otherwise. FiveThirtyEight portal figures – a cut of October 8 – show biden is above Trump by at least four percentage points in Florida. In fact, an Quinnipiac University poll says the difference between the Democratic candidate and the representative is 11 points, with Biden leading the poll at 51%, leaving Trump at 40%.

Yet all that is yet to be seen, as the last election was particularly tough for Democrats. And it is that their candidates for the Governorate and the Senate lost by less than a percentage point after resulting with great advantages in the polls. There Florida's custom of resulting in tight victories, and so campaigns spare no effort in winning the Latino vote, even the Colombian vote.

"It's scary to think Trump might stay, people think it's best to have a representative to keep the economy stabilized. I think the opposite, these last few years with Trump in the presidency were very painful for us as Latinos, for us as women and for the LGBTI community," said Lina Alvarado, a Miami-based Colombian for 16 years.

*The name was changed at the request of the source

Posted in The Spectator, available here