By Alex Gonzalez
In Florida, it used to be that being “Hispanic” meant being Cuban. Romney has been building his base among “Hispanics” in the Cuban American-communities. As a result, he successfully got the endorsement of the three heavy hitters in Florida Politics, the Diaz-Bollard brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Also, in Florida, Romney has supported the “wet-foot, dry-foot” polices for illegal immigration from Cuba. So he will do just fine with the Cubans in Florida. But Cuban-Americans are only 5% of the Hispanic population nationally and in 2010, only 55% of Hispanic voted for Rubio. The result of this may be the shifting in the composition of the Hispanic community in Florida politics. Huntsman has also spent lots of time in Florida with Cuban Hispanic community.
The “Hispanic” population of Florida, outside Dade-Miami, has changed; Puerto Ricans in Florida, who tend to vote democrat and are citizens, now are the same share of resident as Cuban-Americans. So the political configuration of the state is changing with every election cycle. Thus, it is unclear as to how much control of the “Hispanic” bloc can Cuban-Americans still exert over state politics outside Dade county, which is the base Romney wants to attract.
Moreover, when Romney goes to the southwest, where the population of Hispanics are 80% Mexican-Americans who have perceived Romney’s views on immigration as “restrictionists, or nativists”, it will be interesting to see how Romney can compromise his previous statements on immigration with a more reasonable tone that will lure Latinos (Mexican-Americans) in states like Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada—all must-win swing states; or in states like Texas and California where the Hispanic vote is already about 25% of the state share of voters. And these are states with a large Republican number of delegates and Electoral College Votes.
Therefore , it is mathematically impossible that Romney will get to become President without 40% of the Hispanic Mexican-American community where Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have a more lukewarm relation with Latinos. Essentially, Florida is about 60% Romney among Hispanics. But in the southwest, it is still up in the air and Romney has a long road ahead.
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