Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Florida Democrats Stick with John McCain

Despite Obama’s best efforts, Hispanics in Florida continue to show strong support for John McCain.

As Democrat Barack Obama headlines a rally Wednesday during his second campaign swing through Florida in as many weeks, he faces a challenge in the diverse battleground state: winning over Hispanics.He’s 10 percentage points behind Republican John McCain among Hispanics in Florida, according to a Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll released Sunday that showed a tight race overall. McCain is favored by Hispanics 51 to 41 percent in the survey. However the poll’s margin of error for the Hispanic voter numbers is 10.6 percentage points. A Mason-Dixon poll released Tuesday showed McCain leading by 6 percentage points among Hispanics, those results are actually within the margin of error.

The gaps exist despite a statewide surge in Democratic registration among Hispanics and Obama’s promise to spend a record-setting $20 million on Hispanic outreach nationwide. Tuesday, the campaign released ads on Spanish-language television and radio in Florida that depict McCain as oblivious to the millions of Americans without health insurance or jobs.

John McCains continued lead in the polls signifies trouble not only for Obama but for Florida Democrats attempting to unseat Republicans in Congress. According to Roland Sanchez-Medina, Vice President of the Cuban-American Bar Association, Obama’s current drag among Hispanics could hurt the Democratic Party’s chances of unseating three South Florida Cuban-American Republicans in Congress:Lincoln Diaz-Balart(R-Fl), Mario Diaz-Balart(R-Fl) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen(R-FL).

Many point to Obama’s apparent willingness to meet with men such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez as partly to blame for the lack of support. John McCain recently launched a Spanish language ad that depicts Hugo Chávez ranting against ”filthy Yankees” and asks: “Did you see who Obama wants to talk with?”

Republican State Representative Juan Carlos Zapata, who is Colombian American explains,”the ad will be effective among Venezuelans, as well as in the Cuban and Colombian communities that share a hostility toward Chávez.” He added that,”Obama is talking about talking to bad guys, and a lot of people are here in Florida because they left those bad guys, people like Chávez and Castro.”

However it seems that the Hillary Clinton factor may be hurting Obama with Hispanics in Florida. Interviews with voters and community leaders suggest Obama’s challenge is less about foreign policy and more about who he’s not. Many Hispanic voters felt more comfortable with Hillary Clinton a name brand in politics rather than the junior Senator from Illinois.

”When Obama put Biden on the ticket and not Hillary, he definitely lost his calculator,” said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who helped conduct the Miami Herald poll.

The results from these latest polls are discouraging, since Florida Democrats have been predicting a sea change in which older Cuban Americans will be outnumbered at the polls by younger Cuban Americans and newer arrivals from Latin America who are more concerned with health care than their homelands. Democrats have also been counting on a backlash among Hispanics to rhetoric from conservative Republicans over immigration. However, the fact that Democrats won a larger percentage of Latino votes than Republicans in the 2006 mid term elections may be an indicator that Obama can still win the battle in Florida.

According to Miami consultant Freddy Balsera, who advises Obama on Hispanic outreach, “the Hispanic vote is going to be competitive, and we are going to fight harder than any other Democrat has in Florida.”

For the next few weeks we will continue to see many different polls on a daily basis. The reality is that many of these polls may not accurately reflect the thousands of individuals that have recently registered to vote. These new voters will undoubtedly have an impact in determining the winner is the state of Florida. Another factor to consider when determining the accuracy of polls such as these is the margin of error. In this case, the margin of error is quite high, so it is unclear if these polls are really a good measure of the support that exists for Obama in the state. On November 4th, victory will not be determined by polls but by the individuals who will cast their votes.

Miami Herald