At The Federalist, Giancarlo Sopo explains that the biggest surprise to come out of Florida’s 2018 election, and there were many of them, was the proportion of Hispanic voters who chose to elect GOP candidates. Sopo tells readers that despite Florida’s Hispanic population diversifying away from its traditional conservative Cuban base, many of the newcomers have chosen to vote for Republicans as well. He writes (abridged):
Few statistics from this month’s midterm election were more surprising than the gains Republicans made in Florida among Hispanic voters. In perhaps the most important swing state in the country, and in defiance of most polls and conventional wisdom inside the Beltway, the GOP saw an 18-point net gain among this constituency in the Sunshine State compared to 2016.
Florida has been an outlier for the GOP, thanks in no small part to the influence of the state’s Cuban American electorate. Since becoming a towering force in Florida politics in the early 1980s, Republicans have courted Cuban voters, who are approximately 6 percent of the state’s electorate.
While the Republicans’ midterm victories in Florida prevented a blue wave from becoming a tsunami, the state’s electoral demographics will likely not be as favorable to the GOP in 2020.
Non-Cuban Hispanic and youth turnout levels tend to be lower in midterm elections than in presidential years. According to pre-election day statistics issued by the Division of Elections, Hispanics made up just 13 percent of those who had cast a ballot, despite being 16.4 percent of the electorate.
Since 2000, Florida’s Cuban voters have increasingly supported Democrats in presidential elections, as the voting patterns of younger Cuban Americans more closely reflect those of their millennial and Gen-Z counterparts across the country than that of their conservative grandparents.
Florida’s Hispanic electorate has also become more diverse, as more Puerto Ricans and immigrants from Central and South America have moved to the state. In 1990, a plurality of Florida’s registered Hispanic voters was Cuban, and as recently as 2006, a majority of the state’s Hispanics was signed up in the GOP. Today, Florida Hispanics are more likely to be registered as Democrats and Cubans are now just 31 percent of the state’s Hispanic electorate.
Yes, the GOP retained the governorship and flipped a Senate seat in the face of strong headwinds, but on the basis of decreasing statewide margins resulting from lost ground in important areas such as Jacksonville and Tampa. If these patterns hold, they represent ominous signs for Republicans.
Trump can lose Michigan and Pennsylvania and still be re-elected if he holds on to Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida, but the latter is more purple than people realize and this year’s results might suggest.
Keeping Florida red defied expectations and was no easy feat, but rather than being sanguine about this year’s results, Republicans should be concerned about what they might mean for 2020.
Read more here.