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Florida’s Hispanic Vote

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The hurricanes have made Florida so confusing the
pollsters can’t get a decent read on what’s going
on. Bush is expected to take the state, but there are
intriguing bits and pieces of news that suggest Kerry
may be drawing support from unexpected quarters.

For one thing, the Cuban community is not locked into voting Republican as Jeb Bush thought they once were.

The Cubans are put out with Bush. He allowed
several fugitives who fled to U.S. shores to be returned
to Cuba and Castro justice. Attacked by right wingers
in the community, Bush tried to make up for the blunder
by announcing broad travel restrictions by Cuban
Americans to Cuba. This angered Cubans who go back and forth to visit
relatives. The BBC reports, “[P]olls show that among
older Cubans, who tend to be the most hard-line, Mr.
Bush’s support has slipped from 82 percent—the vote he got
in the last election—to 70 percent.” Among Cubans born in the U.S., Kerry leads Bush, 58 to 32 percent.

Cubans are now just one of several Hispanic
blocs in Florida politics. There are 3.1 million
Latinos residing in the state, accounting for 14
percent of Florida’s total vote. In 1996 some 72
percent voted for Clinton. In 2000, 62 percent went
for Gore.

The Puerto Rican community, numbering
650,000, is fast growing and of considerable political
significance. (Puerto Ricans are
American citizens and have the right to vote.) Sixty
percent of them voted for Gore, and they overwhelmingly
supported Jeb Bush for governor. Current polls suggest
Puerto Ricans are split one third for George W. Bush, one third
for Kerry, and one third undecided. In a tight race,
Puerto Ricans could put the state into the Kerry
column.


Additional reporting: David Botti

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