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Trump Schooled Democrats On Miami-Dade Latinos — But Some Did Vote For Biden

Tim Padgett
Cuban and other Latino Trump supporters outside the John F. Kennedy Library polling site in Hialeah on Tuesday

Trump performed so well in Miami-Dade County because he reached beyond Cubans to other Latino groups — even if his pitch to them was often a lie.

A big reason Joe Biden did so poorly in Miami-Dade County Tuesday is that President Trump did so well with Miami-Dade Latinos. In fact, the Trump campaign schooled the Democrats on that key Miami electorate.

As if to announce their high-octane support, many Latino Trump voters at polling sites like the John F. Kennedy Library — in the large Cuban enclave of Hialeah — spent much of the day loudly revving souped-up car and pickup truck engines.

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In the end it wasn’t just noise. Trump is estimated to have tied if not beaten Biden among Miami-Dade Latinos. And he did it largely by convincing them of the lie that Biden is a socialist in the mold of leftist Latin American dictators like Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro or Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.

“It’s very simple, either you go right or you go left," said Hialeah bartender Douglas Argüello, a Nicaraguan-American. "We cannot put Biden in the White House because you’re voting for the communist party. Donald Trump is going to get rid of the communists in our Latin America.”

The bulk of Trump’s Latino vote haul in Miami-Dade was Cuban-Americans, most of whom support his tougher stance on communist Cuba. He’s estimated to have won about two-thirds of that bloc. But demographic experts say attracting more non-Cuban Latinos like Argüello was key to his performance.

“Republicans are very good at making the Cubans feel very special — but can use them to talk to other Hispanics as well," says Guillermo Grenier, a Florida International University sociologist whose recent poll of Miami-Dade Cubans foreshadowed the election results.

"And that’s what Trump did down here. The Republicans made them feel, ‘Hey, this is not only a Cuban party, we’re listening to all you guys.'”

Exit polling showed Trump also performed better than expected with Latinos across Florida.

Still, as badly as Biden underperformed with Miami-Dade Latinos, many Cubans did take other issues like COVID-19 into the voting booth. Hialeah elementary school teacher Cassandra Andreu cast her ballot for Biden at the Kennedy Library site.

“All my family is Trump supporters so we’re a house divided," Andreu said. "But I just don’t agree with how Trump is running the country with COVID. I’m a teacher and I quit my job because I don’t want to go back to work.”

Andreu was admittedly one of the few Biden voters at the site, where she was met by the loud throng of flag-waving, music-blasting and often verbally abusive Trump supporters.

But she said she appreciated the several non-partisan poll watchers who called themselves “election protector” watchdogs against voter intimidation. One was Miami anthropologist Ariana Hernandez, who is originally from Spain.

“We're here to make people feel more comfortable because they come to vote and they know they are in enemy territory, so to speak," said Hernandez. "And they call you communist. Some today were called 'baby killers' because many Latino Trump voters associate Biden and Democrats with abortion and a pro-choice stance.

No incidents of actual violence were reported at the site.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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