Florida Democrats Assess What Went Wrong For Biden With Latinos in the State – Newsweek

One of the reasons the election is still in doubt is that President Donald Trump was able to decisively win Florida, in a much stronger performance than 2016, especially with Latino voters.

That has led to finger-pointing and an attempt by Florida Democrats and experts to perform an autopsy less than 24 hours later to understand what happened.

Biden won Latinos by only 52 percent to 47 percent, a disappointing drop from Hillary Clinton's 62 percent support four years ago and a major improvement for Trump from 35 percent, according to exit polls. This year, the Associated Press ran its own exit poll, which showed Biden's lead at 54 percent to 45 percent.

Still, the numbers told the story in Miami-Dade County, where Clinton beat Trump by nearly 30 points, but Biden won by only 7.3 percent.

One well-respected Democrat in the state called the Miami-Dade results a "wipeout" for Biden.

"+8 Biden in Miami-Dade is a wipeout," the source told Newsweek in a text message. "Obama '08 was +16, which was my worst case [scenario]."

One factor in Biden's loss of support, Democrats and Republicans in the state believe, was the way the Trump campaign, surrogates and supporters were able to hammer home the allegation that Biden and Democrats are card-carrying socialists and communists.

"The Biden campaign was slow to defend itself from the attacks," former Florida Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo said on MSNBC. "Of course, the Republican choice of attack here in Florida's Hispanic community was this label of socialism that they used against Democrats, and that scared away a lot of middle of the road Latino voters who have voted Democratic in the past but now believe the Democratic Party has moved too far to the left."

The Biden campaign's view is that they were facing an unprecedented disinformation campaign about the Democratic ticket being socialists or communists, and that it was a tall order to address that misinformation with conservative-leaning Latinos in the state, like Cubans and Venezuelans, and then also get those same voters to support Biden.

The campaign clearly wanted to do better, but they don't believe Clinton-level support would have made a difference in the state.

"You give Biden Clinton's Latino numbers and we still lose Florida," Biden pollster Matt Barreto told Newsweek. "Trump had strength with white people in Florida that people were hoping he didn't have. Losses with white voters is what cost us Florida."

But some in Florida bristle at the narrative that Biden was plagued by misinformation leading to his loss of support with Latinos.

"That's bull****," said a veteran Florida Republican. "It's a little bit insulting the disinformation stuff. I've seen screenshots of what people are talking about. I can't think of too many people I've met in Miami that can't think for themselves. It's a very opinionated, strong city."

The Florida Republican did acknowledge, however, that while Clinton faced socialism attacks, the operation was amplified and more widespread against Biden.

The allegations about Biden and Harris' secret ideologies were disseminated not just on traditional media like Spanish-language radio stations, but also through YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook.

Fernand Amandi, former top consultant for President Barack Obama's Latino voter polling

Fernand Amandi, the former top consultant for Obama's Latino voter polling, was worried Biden would face these problems come Election Day, and spoke about it in the weeks and months leading up to Tuesday's loss.

"Is it an absurd allegation to call Joe Biden a communist? Yes, but the only thing more absurd than that is for Joe Biden and Democrats not to confront it, refute it and overcome it," Amandi told Newsweek.

The Biden campaign tried to run ads in Florida comparing Trump to strongmen like Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and addressing the charges against Biden.

"When people tell me 'I'm not going to vote for Biden because he's a socialist,' I tell them you know what? He's not going to turn the United States into what socialism turned Venezuela into," a Venezuelan immigrant said in one Biden ad.

But Amandi said the campaign's focus on Florida in the final two and a half months came too late, because "the Trump operation had been in campaign mode since 2015."

Florida was always central to Trump's plans, Amandi said, from Trump registering to vote there, to bringing Senator Marco Rubio in on Latin America policy, and launching Latinos for Trump in Florida.

"Democrats in Florida have allowed the cardinal sin to happen with the Hispanic electorate," Amandi argued. "They've allowed the Democratic party brand to be defined by socialismso it doesn't matter if it's Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders or Joe Bidenif they perceive the D next to their name to stand for Democratic socialism or communism, then that's what matters.

But others said now is the time for the party to learn the lessons of what happened in Florida, and engage and invest more, rather than pull away from the state that has repeatedly vexed the party.

While the Biden campaign did better with Puerto Ricans in Florida than with Cubans, receiving 68 percent support from Puerto Ricans, Democrats said the understanding of the Latino vote in the state by Democrats must become more sophisticated.

"We need education in Spanish on politics and the election, but we also need year-round research on the subcultures in Florida," said Evelyn Prez-Verda, a Democratic strategist with two decades in the state. "I don't want to see more about Puerto Ricans and Cubans. I want to know how Colombians and Venezuelans think."

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Florida Democrats Assess What Went Wrong For Biden With Latinos in the State - Newsweek

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