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Venezuelan Expats Survey Shows Most Are With Democrats — But It's Complicated

Tim Padgett
An expat wrapped in a Venezuelan flag after voting in a 2017 referendum in Miami.

Venezuelans are still a relatively small voter bloc in Florida. But they’re growing, thanks to the crisis in Venezuela. And a survey was released Tuesday that Democratic presidential candidates gathered here this week may want to see.

There are an estimated 100,000 registered Venezuelan voters in Florida — less than a tenth of the state’s Cuban voters. But a hundred thousand votes can easily swing a presidential election in this state.

The new survey of Venezuelan expats, the vast majority in South Florida, was conducted by the Miami firm Integrated Communications and Research (ICR). It shows less than 5 percent of registered Venezuelan voters in the U.S. are Republicans. A third are Democrats — and a majority of all Venezuelan expats favor that party. That’s largely because Venezuelans feel Democrats are more attuned to their key issue, immigration, and matters such as gaining Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.

Credit ICR
The ICR survey shows a third of Venezuelan expat voters are registered as Democrats; less than 5 percent as Republicans.

ICR CEO Eduardo Gamarra warns Democrats the survey's findings are more complicated than that.

“Venezuelans say that we always had these very, very significant ties to the Democrats," Gamarra says. "But now what you see is that they support the Trump Administration and its policies toward Venezuela.”

In fact, almost two-thirds of Venezuelans said they support the Republican administration’s policy for ousting Venezuela’s socialist regime — and more than 40 percent back U.S. miltiary intervention to accomplish it. (President Trump has said that option "is on the table.")

Nonetheless, Gamarra says the survey interviews indicated Venezuelans still think both parties engage their concerns too superficially.

Credit ICR
More than 40 percent say U.S. military intervention is required for regime change in Venezuela.

“The message to the parties," he says,  "is that they have to show more of a genuine interest in what Venezuelans are going through.”

ICR plans to survey Venezuelan expats monthly.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.