Tallahassee, Florida (AFP) – Perhaps only in Florida, a loss of less than 4 percentage points is a general defeat.
In a state known for its narrow margins, the scale of former Vice President Joe Biden’s loss to President Donald Trump has been insulting to Democrats and has sent many to seek answers about their failure to seal the deal with voters – once again.
The Democrats focused on two clear explanations: Biden did not communicate with Latino voters in the state, and he performed particularly poorly with Cuban voters in South Florida. They also guessed the party’s decision to freeze personal organization during the worst of the pandemic, a decision that put them back in reaching voters.
“Biden clearly wasn’t able to capture the imagination of voters in Florida and create the kind of enthusiasm to go out and vote for Biden the way Trump did to his base of supporters in the state,” said Fernand Amandy, a Miami-based Democrat. It is an unacceptable record of absurdity. What makes it so troublesome is that the problems that need to be fixed are very obvious. But they just don’t fit. “
Amandy focused on Biden’s campaign struggles to reach out to Hispanic voters in the state.
For months Trump and Republicans attacked Biden with misleading claims that he was a “socialist” and that he would cater to the left wing of the Democratic Party. The attacks gave additional power to Cuban Americans and Venezuelans, who associate the designations with authoritarian and corrupt Latin American leaders.
Biden’s weakness was most apparent in his underperformance in Miami-Dade County, which has the largest concentration of Hispanic voters in the state, especially Cuban Americans. Biden won the county, the state’s most populous one, by just 7 percentage points – compared to the 30-point margin for Democratic victory Hillary Clinton four years ago against Trump.
AP VoteCast, a Florida voter survey, found that Trump won 58% of Cuban American voters statewide, while those of South American descent were split evenly between Biden and Trump. The poll said Puerto Rican voters backed Biden by 2 to 1.
The relatively poor performance in South Florida hurt other Democrats, as Republicans ousted two members of Congress in the Miami area – Rep. Donna Chelala and Debbie Mocarsil Powell.
“When you look at Miami Dade in particular, there were a lot of ads on the other side of the corridor that dealt with socialism, and in some cases even the word communism,” said Democratic Representative Charlie Christ, a former Republican governor. It held three statewide offices.
“I think that had a clear effect,” Crist said. “When you are attacked you have to fight back. I am not sure how much fighting happened on our side.”
Trump was a first in adopting and using it to advance the Spanish community, which represents about 1 in 5 voters in Florida.
Biden started late. Not only did he have to secure his party’s nomination, he was sidelined from a more aggressive campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic – for a while, Florida was off limits as the epicenter of the outbreak.
While Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, eventually visited the main battle state, much of the campaign was conducted almost exclusively due to concerns about the pandemic. When the Republicans restarted going door to door, the Democrats remained on the sidelines.
Senator Annette Tadeo, who has long been critical of her party’s approach to campaigning, said problems preceded the pandemic.
“You need a permanent presence,” she said, “and you can’t take minority communities for granted.” “You cannot attend in the two months before the elections and expect to excite these communities.”
Florida Republican Gov. Ron Diantes is crediting the Trump campaign for sparking excitement, even amid the pandemic.
“He scored a really important victory in Florida,” said Desantes, a key Trump ally.
He said, “I think that it stormed him, which concerns the extent of his campaign – in his case, doing these big events … the electricity they generate.”
Some Democrats also give Republicans credit for registering thousands of new voters and narrowing the voter registration advantage that Democrats have long enjoyed.
But Democrats turned the tables on Republicans on absentee ballots, a major Republican force in previous election cycles that helped boost turnout. While more Democrats voted by mail ahead of Tuesday’s election, Republicans also made a quick pivot to get more of their party members to vote in person during the early voting period.
While Democrats outnumbered Republicans for a long time, they had little to show. In 2016, Clinton narrowly lost to Trump. Two years ago, Democratic governor candidate Andrew Jellum, who was to become Florida’s first black governor, narrowly lost to DeSantis. US Senator Bill Nelson narrowly lost his re-election bid.
As it stands, the Democrats now hold only one statewide office – the Commissioner for Agriculture, held by Nikki Fred, who is said to be considering a possible run for a higher position. But its success may depend on what the Democrats learn from their recent defeats.
For Tadeo, the Democratic state senator, that means going back to basics. “It’s a math matter,” she said. “We need to register voters all the time.”