Miami Herald -
From the St. Petersburg Times -
Battle brews for Florida’s Hispanic voters -
Both parties are gearing up to to wage a fierce battle for the state’s Hispanic vote. For Democrats, the president’s reelection may ride on their success. -
By ALEX LEARY -
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Battle brews for Florida’s Hispanic voters
Some excerpts :
The breathless dash comes well before the 2012 election, but there is no time to wait.
Hispanics are the country’s fastest-growing demographic, and Republicans and Democrats are jumping in to harness the vast potential. Florida says it all: Hispanic voters are predicted to top 1.6 million in 2012, a 34 percent increase in four years.
“The Hispanic vote is absolutely up for grabs and few places is that more true than Florida,” said Evan Bacalao, senior director of civic engagement for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which projects Hispanics will make up about 18 percent of the overall vote in the state.
Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote nationwide in 2008 and captured 57 percent in Florida, where Hispanics have typically favored Republicans. “Sí, se puede,” Obama shouted to a crowd of 600 who showed up to hear him in Kissimmee that year. “Yes, we can.”
Today there are about 138,000 more registered Hispanic Democrats than Republicans in Florida, with younger Cubans and Puerto Ricans making up a large share of the growth. (A substantial amount, 31 percent, of Hispanic voters are independent, more than any ethnic or racial group.)
But the GOP got the Hispanic vote in 2010, even as now-Gov. Rick Scott campaigned for tough immigration laws that many Hispanics found offensive. Democrats appeared to be taking past success for granted, only getting serious about outreach late in the campaign.
His counterpart at the Democratic National Committee, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of South Florida, said that the Republican agenda is out of step with the middle class and pointed to efforts the Obama administration has taken to extend health insurance to legal immigrant children, provide more Pell Grants to Hispanic students and cut taxes for families.