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Report: Democrats Need A Better Presence — And Message — With Florida Latinos

Tim Padgett
Biden campaign canvassers call on Latino voters in Miami-Dade County on Election Day in November.

Joe Biden won the Florida Latino vote — but it was nonetheless a weak performance that has stunned his party into rethinking its approach to the state.

Joe Biden won the presidency no thanks to Florida, where he lost big to President Trump in November. A key anxiety for Democrats was his underperformance with the state’s large cohort of Latino voters — and a new report out this week looks at why that happened and how to fix it.

President-elect Biden did win a majority of Latino votes in Florida. But it was still a relatively weak performance. The report by the polling firm LD Insights says Biden saw a net loss of 109,000 Latino votes in Miami-Dade County, for example, compared to Hillary Clinton’s take in 2016.

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A big reason: Democrats have invested too little in Latino voter outreach in Florida, while Republicans are much better established with that demographic there.

Another: the Democrats’ response to GOP disinformation that Biden and his party were radical “socialistas” was too little and too late.

The report also says Democrats “failed to deliver a bold, clear message of what the party and [its] candidates stood for,” especially on economic issues most important to Latinos amid the anxieties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report recommends the party build year-round instead of just election-season infrastructure and strategies to engage Florida Latinos.

And it needs to start recruiting Latino candidates in the state as widely and aggressively as the Republicans have.

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