Puerto Rican voters are now the largest group of eligible Latino voters in Florida.
Florida has voted for the winner in the past six presidential elections, and observers are suggesting that the new, larger number of Puerto Rican voters could be an important factor in the 2020 election.
An EquisLabs poll of Florida Puerto Rican voters in 2019 found that 73% of respondents disapproved of Trump’s handling of Puerto Rico, but just 63% planned to vote Democratic in the 2020 presidential election and 21% expected to vote for Trump in November. An additional 16% had not made up their minds.
A more recent EquisLabs poll found that Joe Biden had a 41-point lead over Donald Trump among Puerto Rican voters in Florida.
These numbers may not be discouraging for Republicans, however, since they suggest that there are still undecided voters in the community, as well as Trump supporters.
In addition, and perhaps most important, President Trump doesn’t need to win the Puerto Rican vote to win Florida – he just needs to make a big enough dent in former Vice President Biden’s support.
“President Donald Trump doesn’t need to win a plurality of Latino voters to win re-election, he just needs to shave enough Latino voters off the margins,” NBC news concluded from their conversation with EquisLabs.
Getting out the vote
Florida could support either Republican or Democratic candidates in 2020, depending on which party is more successful in getting out the vote. Florida’s Puerto Rican voters could be an important target.
Florida’s Cuban voters, according to another EquisLabs poll, actually feel more positive about Trump than previously polled, with 63% indicating that they would vote to re-elect Trump.
If Republicans rely on Cuban voters’ tendency to lean Republican to make them complacent, Puerto Rican voters could surprise them.
Joe Biden has begun to put energy into Latino voters, according to Politico. “Biden’s campaign plans to harness the ‘incredible anger’ among Puerto Rican voters in Florida over Trump’s handling of Hurricane Maria in 2017,” the publication recently reported.
At the same time, it appears that Trump’s campaign is keeping the issues general for Florida’s Hispanic constituency. In a written statement, the campaign claimed that Hispanic voters “are motivated by jobs, education, family, faith and community values. Those are core values for President Donald Trump and Republicans and leave little room for wondering why we continue to win in Florida.”