MIAMI, Fla. — As DeSantis gets ready to place his bid for the presidency, reporter Sophia Hernandez took an in-depth look into the importance of the Hispanic vote in this upcoming 2024 presidential race and how their vote could make all the difference.
In the heart of Miami’s Little Havana is where Miami’s finest go to play ‘the’ game of the city, dominoes.
“Like America, there’s no other country,” said Maria in Spanish.
During her game of dominoes, Maria explained why she believed Hispanics vote the way they do, “We Hispanics want, like Americans, want this to be a country that flourishes. That there’s jobs, but there is also security.”
She furthered, “All of us are immigrating from our countries, why? Because we don’t have security. There’s kidnapping, robbing, stealing of cars, there’s violence. We don’t want that here or in any country.”
“This state has a very strong hold on politics. Strong, with zero tolerance. And I am very much in agreement with that, very much in agreement,” stated Antonio, another player at Domino Park on Friday.
It’s Cuban Americans like Antonio that have been helping Florida move from a purple state to a red state.
Experts like Sebastian Arcos with the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University explain in 2014, only 53% of Cuban Americans were registered Republicans. It was the lowest majority ever seen, but things have changed.
“After '18, that changed dramatically, and I mean really dramatically,” explained Arcos. “We have seen after '18…there is a resurgence of interest of the Republican Party.”
According to FIU’s Cuba Poll for 2022, a survey that is conducted every two years, while Cubans only make up 0.7% of America’s population, they are 7.2% of Florida’s, and 35.9% of Miami-Dade’s.
Other Hispanic groups like Venezuelans and Nicaraguans account for 17.5% of voters nationwide, 18.6% of Florida’s voters, and 32.4% of Miami-Dade’s.
Research also showed that Cuban Americans tend to be the most ‘red’ leaning. There are 51.6% in Florida registered to the Republican party, while other Hispanics only amount to 16.3%.
But the other nationalities have also been making a slow sway towards conservative. It’s a choice Eduardo Gamaria has been studying.
“They tend to vote on the basis of two factors. One, what Washington said about their home country, and two, what’s going on in their home country,” said Gamaria.
When speaking to Gamaria, he shared the political changes happening in Latin America have also swayed voter opinion for more recent migrants to the state.
Gamaria stated, “In Chile, a socialist won the presidency but he went too far to the left, and there was a correction just last week in an election for a constituent assembly where the far right won. So, there are many people today talking about a new right emerging in Latin America.”
So, the question is, how important is the Hispanic vote in this 2024 presidential election?
Both experts believe in Florida, the vote won’t hold as much weight as Florida is already a red state.
But nationally, the different subgroups of Hispanics have different voting patterns that could make all the difference.
“You are going to have a high rate of naturalization on Colombians, who already there are more Colombian citizens than immigrants. Venezuelans, who now are about 75,000-80,000 voters here, they will grow significantly because there are 300,000 in the state,” stated Gamaria.
He furthered, “And moving forward, we will have more Mexicans who will become citizens, and they trend blue. And then Puerto Ricans, who may have voted for DeSantis, but that’s a group that historically has been democratic.”
The more contentious issue is when given the choice between Governor Ron Desantis and former President Donald Trump, two candidates heavily favored by conservative Hispanics, who would the vote be more inclined for?
FIU’s poll asked more than 1,000 Cuban Americans which Republican candidate they would want to see on the 2024 presidential ballot. 37% said Trump and 21% said DeSantis.
However, both experts believe DeSantis, when factoring in all Hispanic subgroups, may actually become the victor. Yet they don’t want others to think Hispanics are a set-in-stone conservative vote.
There are Hispanics not affiliated with a party. In Florida, that’s 27.1 percent of Cubans and 42.7 of other Hispanics. There are also those who are Democrats, making up 21.3% of Cubans and 40.9% of other Hispanics.
“We were tired of the MAGA influence into our culture and communities,” shared Mike Rivero. “And the lack of representation of many Latinos, Cuban Americans included, that don’t agree with this ultra-right-wing ideology.”
Cubanos Pa’lante is a group created after the 2020 election to try and give a voice to the minority of Hispanics in Florida who vote blue.
“It just takes a coordinated effort, meet people where they are, and show where we can make an impact,” states Rivero.
Juan Barrera, who immigrated to Miami in the 1980s from Venezuela, considers himself an independent. Outside of Domino Park, Juan shared, “It’s very important for what one wants you have to vote for.”
But as far as the two potential GOP contenders, they have support at Antonio’s table.
“I think that the two, are trying to put things back to how they are supposed to be,” shared Antonio.