Florida is one of the lynch pins of every Republican’s electoral strategy.
Without the Sunshine state’s 29 Electoral College votes, any GOP Presidential nominee is almost certainly doomed to defeat.
But surprising news out of Florida shows one group of voters no one suspected could swing the state – and the election – to Donald Trump.
From day one of his campaign, pundits and establishment politicians have claimed Trump’s strong stand on securing our borders will sink his chances to win the Hispanic vote.
The political class believes the Republican Party must cave in and pass amnesty legislation in order to win future elections.
But the media and political class often lump all Hispanics into one catch-all group, ignoring the differences that exist among Hispanics and their countries of origin.
One such group is Cubans.
In Florida, Cubans play a large role in the state’s political process.
The older generations usually favor GOP candidates.
In 2012, Mitt Romney won the Cuban vote in Florida by a narrow margin, though he lost the state to Barack Obama.
But the latest New York Times/Siena poll of Florida shows Trump winning 52% of Cubans and leading Hillary by 4 points.
Much of this can be attributed to Trump’s embrace of the Cuban community after Obama normalized trade relations with the communist Castro government.
Andreas Oppenheimer writes in the Seattle Times:
“During an Oct. 25 visit to Miami, Trump met with the Bay of Pigs Veterans’ Association and accused Obama and Clinton of “helping” the Cuban regime. He obviously neglected to mention that he himself supported the same normalization policies until a few weeks ago.
My opinion: Obama, and Clinton, too, probably misread opinion polls showing that Cuban Americans in Florida increasingly support ever-growing ties with Cuba’s dictatorship. That may be true among all Cuban Americans, as the university poll shows, but not necessarily among Cuban American voters.
I wonder what Obama was thinking when he signed the Cuban rum and cigars order — a largely symbolic measure — and when he voted to abstain on the embargo at the U.N., just a few weeks before the U.S. elections. What was the rush to press the normalization pedal just now?
Most likely, it was overconfidence in a Clinton victory, along with a selfish effort to continue exploiting what the Obama administration sees as one of its major foreign-policy triumphs.”
And early voting in Florida has seen an explosion of Hispanic participation.
Hispanic voters have voted at an 86% increase from 2012 in the early voting period.
Some of this is due to more Election Day voters converting into early voters as the process becomes normalized in politics.
But is some of the increase due to pro-Trump Cubans?
If Trump is able to win Cubans by an even greater amount than Mitt Romney, it may offset his losses with other demographic groups and help him win the state.
The polls in Florida suggest a tight race.
Any shift in votes among its groups could hand the race to either candidate.
Should Trump win Florida, his path to the 270 Electoral College votes will remain viable.