For anyone looking to maintain any semblance of hope that the 2020 presidential election will render Donald Trump a one-term president, the voting projections out of Florida are not really helping. Instead, as political pundits breathlessly report the smallest percentage of votes counted in Florida counties, Americans are watching the Sunshine State go from Blue to Red to Blue to Red to Blue again, leading to a severe case of electoral whiplash.
Our collective stress levels aside, what is going on in Florida is more than just a painful neck exercise: It’s the culmination of a successful Republican disinformation campaign, Trump’s outright lies about the Democratic party, and this country’s blatant disregard and misunderstanding of Latinx voters.
Already, Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott declared President Trump the winner of Florida, despite every major news outlet calling the race still too close to call. But here's what we really know so far: Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden is out-performing 2016’s Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in predominantly white-suburbs and among Independent voters. But in Miami-Dade county, Biden is underperforming, predominantly among Latinx voters.
According to CNN, “more than half of Florida Latinx voters said they were backing Biden in CNN’s early exit polls, compared with 62% who backed Clinton four years ago.” In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the county by 30 points. Currently, with 86 percent of precincts reporting, Biden has a 9 point lead — a significant drop, due in no small part to Trump appealing to Cuban voters, who make up more than a quarter of the electorate, as reported by the New York Times.
Americans have a long history of treating the Latinx population as a monolith — overlooking a significant voting population until it’s an election year and their ballots are up for grabs. And while it can never be said enough that no two Latinx voters are the same, for Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants previously subjected to socialist rule in their respective countries, the GOP's disinformation campaign to cast Biden and running-mate Kamala Harris as harbingers of a socialist regime seems to have paid off for the Republicans. The Trump campaign ran ads, in Spanish, comparing Biden to Hugo Chavz, Fidel Castro, and Nicolas Maduro, as reported by the Washington Post.
A significant part of the Latinx population is also Catholic — a reported 55% of the estimated 35.4 million Latinx Americans, per the Pew Research Center — their faith an intricate part of their life and culture. As Trump has leaned heavily on anti-abortion sentiments — and outright lies about abortion procedures to curry favor with white, right-wing Christians — his attacks on abortion access also resonate with Latinx Catholics.
Both President Trump and Democratic nominee Biden prepared for an all-out battle in Florida — Biden’s team has 4,000 lawyers on “standby” in the event of a contested election outcome in the southern state, while Trump has his own team of lawyers at the ready as well. And Biden doesn’t need to win Florida in order to secure 270 electoral votes — Trump does.
But regardless of the outcome of this highly contentious election, one thing is for certain: Politicians will need to stop treating the Latinx population like one solid voting bloc — unless they're not interested in winning in the future.