|Young Cuban Americans picketed Clinton & protested Cuban embassy opening (2015)|
Exit polls for the greater Cuban-American population in Florida, for example, indicate that a disproportionate amount of Cuban-Americans supported Trump compared to other Latino groups. While 54 percent of Cuban-Americans supported Trump, only 35 percent of Latinos nationwide did. Similarly, in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election, Republican Ron DeSantis won twice as many Cuban-American votes as his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum. A nearly identical percentage of Cuban-Americans also chose current Republican Gov. Rick Scott over Democrat Bill Nelson in the Florida senate race. The Cuban vote was solidly red in 2016 and 2018 despite the trend of Latino voters being reliably blue.Sadly, when it comes to trends and explaining how Democrats gained and lost Cuban votes over the years Carpenter's article failed to look at the policies put forward, and relied on the usual suspects who continue to argue that Cuban Americans have been assimilated and no longer prioritize U.S. - Cuba policy. Reviewing recent history provides a different picture.
Candidate Bill Clinton in 1992 ran as a "hardliner" on Cuba policy supporting the Cuban Democracy Act also known as the Torricelli Bill. A bill that President George H.W. Bush had initially refused to sign, but relented once Cuban exiles got Candidate Clinton's backing. As was the case with his approach to China once he got into office Clinton did an about face.
|Congressman Robert Torricelli ( Democrat)|
"It is based on the premise that we would discuss issues only related to Guantánamo. On February 17, 1993, following a request by the United States to discuss issues related to buoy locators for ship navigations into the bay, was the first contact in the history of the revolution. Between March 4 and July 1, the Rafters Crisis took place. A military-to-military hot line was established, and on May 9, 1995, we agreed to monthly meetings with primaries from both governments. To this day, there have been 157 meetings, and there is a taped record of every meeting. The meetings are conducted on the third Friday of every month. We alternate locations between the American base at Guantánamo and in Cuban-held territory. We conduct joint emergency-response exercises. For example, we set a fire, and American helicopters bring water from the bay, in concert with Cuban helicopters.During this period of "constructive engagement" brutal massacres of Cubans such as the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre and the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down took place. The shoot down involved two planes blown to bits over international airspace by Cuban MiGs killing three American citizens and a Cuban resident who were engaged in the search and rescue of Cuban rafters. Since it occurred while President Clinton was seeking re-election and his only options were to do nothing, military action, or toughen sanctions he opted for the latter signing the Cuban Libertad Act of 1996 better known as the Helms-Burton. Once again Bill Clinton ran as a hardliner on Cuba and was rewarded with more support from Cuban Americans at the ballot box.
|Clinton signs the Helms-Burton bill in 1996|
This combined with the Elian episode costs Al Gore Cuban American support in 2000 and led to the loss of Florida in a tight race. Florida would remain in Republican hands when John Kerry ran for president in 2004. He had a radically anti-embargo position and did poorly with Cuban-Americans as a result.
|Candidate Barack Obama courts Cuban American votes in 2008|
Barack Obama did not take that chance when he was running for the White House in 2008 and 2012 on a pro-embargo on Cuba platform, but was willing to risk Hillary's prospects in 2016. To be fair Hillary Clinton also bought the conventional wisdom.
Bendixen-Amandi polls and the FIU Poll with dubious methodology have tricked more than one politician into believing that the Cuban-American community has changed and that backing a policy that legitimizes the Castro regime while human rights worsen on the island will not erode their support.
The candidacies of John Kerry (2004) and Hillary Clinton (2016) in Florida indicates that is not the case.