Florida: Background on the LatAm Vote

1. The Latest Data

The release in recent days of new data from the American Community Survey provides an updated estimate on the size of the various subgroups in Florida’s Hispanic electorate. Here are raw counts of the Citizen Voting Age Population for the top 20 origin groups:

2. Why the LatAm vote matters (a cheat sheet)

  • We’re talking about a lot of voters in a state decided by notoriously narrow margins. Florida’s Latin American voters represent a large block of nearly 3 million eligible voters (nearly 1 million registered voters). In Florida, any shifts in support among smaller communities can have a large effect.
  • Biden’s path to victory in Florida likely requires him to get around 70% of the LatAm vote. We last polled him around 60%.
  • The Florida GOP has been playing the Hispanic margins game in Florida for a long time. Statewide candidates from Jeb Bush to Rick Scott have won races, in part, through a strategy of picking off votes from Hispanic sub-blocks via catered outreach.
  • The Trump campaign has been following this playbook — most visibly, through its blatant outreach to Venezuelan voters. Biden and Democrats have replicated this strategy of targeting sub-ethnicities, and put their own spin on it.
  • There isn’t much public data about Latin American voters. They are harder to poll: the numbers are smaller, so differences aren’t picked up in a statewide poll, and oversampling them can be quite expensive. Because they don’t make the cut in exit polls, we don’t have much in the way of historic data on voting participation and partisanship. As a result, some of the most critical Hispanic voters in Florida are nearly invisible to political practitioners who aren’t already embedded in these communities.

3. The margins game in practice

Comprehending the Hispanic vote in Florida requires an appreciation for the margins game.

A bus bench in Doral, “They make more noise. But there are more of us. #VenezuelansVoteforBiden”
A bus bench in Doral, “They make more noise. But there are more of us. #VenezuelansVoteforBiden”

4. Past results and current polling

What kind of support can we expect for Biden and Trump with the LatAm vote?

Source: Equis analysis of the 2016 Clinton/Trump vote share at the precinct level based on the density of LatAm — or “Other Hispanic” — voters, using BlueLabs modeling appended to the America Votes voter file.

5. Trump’s strategy: red-baiting, neo-fascism

Trump’s strategy to win over Hispanic voters in Florida hinges on a conflation of Latin American leftist regimes with the democratic socialism that came to prominence in the US in 2016.

Satire from @sifrizuela reflecting the newly exalted view of Trump in some anti-Maduro corners of Caracas and Doral (a densely Venezuelan city in Miami-Dade County, FL, nicknamed Doralzuela)

6. How to think about the swing in the LatAm vote

Is the Trump strategy effective? Both quantitative and qualitative research suggests some ways to think about an answer.

7. The Biden opportunity (with a shout-out to to the Mexican vote)

The Biden campaign and other local Democrats have worked to counter Trump’s outreach to some of these origin groups. As discussed, Biden has natural advantages he can push with Colombians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans, whether on COVID recovery, healthcare, or immigration (as in efforts to extend Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans, against steady GOP opposition and the Trump’s administration furtive deportation of Venezuelans).

8. Geographic considerations

Some of the way we talk about LatAm subgroups is influenced by geography. The Latin American vote is heavily concentrated in Miami-Dade, with pockets in other metro corridors.

These maps show the county subdivisions with the highest share of Hispanic voters of various origins — using the only public data available with this level of detail, the 2010 Decennial Census, merely for illustrative purposes.

That’s all for now

If you liked that article, you might also be interested in our deep dive on the Cuban-American vote.

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Equis Research

Equis Research

Creating a better understanding of the Latino electorate