Will the Hispanic vote be the deciding factor in Florida?
With its 29 delegates up for grabs, Florida has more delegates than any other swing state. Florida and its 29 delegates, is tied for the third largest state with New York and carries 11 more delegates than Ohio, often regarded as the most important swing state. 2016 is set to be a landmark year in Florida as the percentage of Hispanic voters in the state makes up just under 25% of the total voting population (1.8 million registered). This represents a 7% growth as a percentage of the population over the last 16 years.
Winning over this large population of voters in Florida will be the key to success in not just the state election, but on winning the presidency. Of the 1.8 Million registered voters, data from Pew Research shows that 678,000 are Democrats, 610,000 are unaffiliated and 479,000 are registered Republicans. Over the last 16 years, the number of Hispanics in every party and those who are unaffiliated has grown; however democrats and unaffiliated Hispanic voters have been rising at a much faster pace than their republican counterparts.
Covering the entire Hispanic population in Florida with one number can be misleading as the Hispanic community is very diverse in the state, with registered Puerto Ricans and Cubans making up slightly over half of the vote down from over 70% 25 years ago, while other Hispanic groups make up the other 43% of the Hispanic electorate. Among Cubans it has been a common trend be switching over the Democrat party, however many very religious Catholic Cubans and other Hispanics are still very loyal to the Republican party.
Even with 479,000 registered Hispanic Republicans in Florida, and over 600,000 independents, it appears that Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric would cost him the state due to the Latino vote. Rubio won decisively in Puerto Rico, won over Hispanic Republicans in the state of Florida by a large margin and would have likely have had the best chance out of all of the Republicans at beating Clinton in the state. Democratic frontrunner Clinton won over the Hispanic vote of the Democrat Party Florida decisively with over 70%. A matchup between to Clinton and Trump would likely lead to a landslide victory for Clinton in the Hispanic population in Florida, handing her the state and possibly the White house. However, Senator Ted Cruz, with his Cuban heritage and Spanish speaking abilities may be able to do better in the Sunshine state and potentially win over the independent Hispanic voters.
No matter who the the nominees are in this election, Florida’s results will be decided by its large 24% Hispanic registered voter population. At this rate however, with a majority of voters already being registered Democrats, it looks like it will be tough for a Republican to win the Hispanic vote this election, likely as a result of the anti-Mexican/Hispanic immigration comments from some of the current front runners in the Republican Party. But that can always change, especially if there happens to be a much higher voter turnout among religious Hispanics and more moderate stances on immigration from the Republican party once the nominee is selected.