Latino candidates and voters led the red wave of the 2022 midterms in Florida
Republicans ran the table in Florida with key victories in the Governor, Senate, and many House races with large support from Latino voters.
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While some races across the country are still too close to call, in Florida, by the end of Election Night, Nov. 8, multiple news outlets had already projected winners for some of the Sunshine state’s bigger races, with key wide-margin victories in the Governor, Senate, and many House races.
Florida is the only state in the country to have led a completely red wave led in part by a large block of Latino voters who flipped allegiances during the critical cycle. With the exception of the victory of Latino Democrat and Gen-Z’er Maxwell Frost in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, the state is now overwhelmingly red as a result of a Democratic collapse.
Governor and U.S. Senate shellackings
Incumbent Republican Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis will retain his seat and serve a second term after defeating challenger Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points. DeSantis also won big in Miami-Dade County, a historically Democratic county with a predominantly Latino population. DeSantis’ victory in Miami-Dade makes him the first GOP Governor since Jeb Bush to win there in over 20 years.
Senator Marco Rubio also defeated his Democratic opponent Val Demings in a convincing romp of over 17 percentage points, making him the first GOP Senator to win a third consecutive term.
The Cuban-American is now the state’s longest-serving Latino elected official. Both parties have credited Rubio for the GOP’s huge influence among Latino voters — Florida’s fastest and largest growing demographic group. All factors put together, helped him turn the state redder than it has ever historically been.
The state’s Latino vote, compared to other states, is more conservative in large part due the strong influence of GOP Latino officials like Rubio, but more so in the Miami-Dade area with voters of all Latino backgrounds. This large voting bloc found common cause as the GOP ran a successful campaign posing Democrats as too far left. Besides his huge influence with Florida’s Latino demographic and the Republican Party, Rubio also has influenced the U.S. Latin American policy as the vice chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee.
The House gets more red
In other races across Florida that proved to be convincing wins, Incumbent Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart won re-election and swept the floor with his opponent Christine Olivo, winning by an overwhelming 40 percentage points in District 26. Longtime Florida politician and incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez also defeated Democratic state Rep. Robert Asencio to remain at the helm of Florida’s 28th Congressional District. Giménez had 64% of the vote compared to 36% for Asencio.
Republicans' successful campaigning in recruiting Latino votes, especially in South Florida, proved to be the deciding factor. The political landscape in the state has drastically transformed, and will prove difficult for Democrats in future local and national elections to recapture or even leave a footprint. Florida’s Latino voter bloc is one of the more diverse ones in the country, as the GOP were able to move Latino voters to the right.
In Florida’s 13th Congressional District, Republican candidate Anna Paulina Luna defeated Democrat Eric Lynn to fill the vacant seat left by Charlie Crist, the gubernatorial candidate who lost to DeSantis on Tuesday night. Her win pushes Florida closer to a GOP majority control in the U.S. House. This race was a lot closer compared to some of other ones in the state, but was still a significant margin as Luna took in 53% to Lynn’s 45%.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Mast also won re-election in the state’s 21st Congressional District, defeating challenger Corinna Balderramos Robinson. Mast convincingly took in over 63% of the vote compared to 36% for his Democratic challenger. Mast has been a state representative for Florida since 2017. The former Army Veteran led a successful funding campaign that raised over $6 million dollars, while Robinson raised less than $100,000, according to a spokesperson for the Mast campaign.
In Florida’s 27th Congressional District, former journalist and news anchor for Telemundo and now-politician, Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar won re-election in Miami by defeating Annette Taddeo 57% to 42%. Like other Latino and Latino GOP officials in the state such as Rubio, Salazar touted throughout her campaign that Latinos are now overwhelmingly Republican. She also posed her opponent as a radical leftist who tried to falsely appeal to the Latino community, highlighting her own Cuban roots as further evidence of her experience leftist leaders.
“This election proves what Ronald Reagan famously said, that Latinos are Republicans, they just don’t know it, until tonight, because 2022 has been the year of the Hispanic Republicans. For the last two years, the radical left has tried to change the course of this country, but the founding fathers created a system that was too strong and is still standing on the pillars of faith, family, and freedom,” Salazar said in her victory speech.
What the future holds
It has been explained by political aficionados, and Democrats and Republicans alike that messaging in part is a huge reason as for why Latinos have flipped allegiances, especially in Florida, where the country saw a complete GOP takeover because of Latino voters.
For instance, while Biden has passed huge bills like the Inflation Reduction Act and pushed for student debt forgiveness, his administration and party as a whole have failed to explain what it means for the Latino community and how it affects them. Certain issues like abortion, climate change, and immigration have gone against Democrats during these midterms and polls from multiple outlets revealed that those issues were at the bottom of most Latino’s concerns, especially in Florida.
The GOP recognized this and instead campaigned on the idea of fixing pocketbook issues like inflation, and the economy. These issues created unity not just within the Latino community, but American voters of all backgrounds. This would in part explain why Latinos overwhelmingly voted Republican and supported controversial figures like DeSantis despite recent actions that went against the Latino community, such as his migrant transportation scheme to northern states.
Florida’s huge Republican wins with Latinos could serve as a launching pad for greater and better things for the party, but are now just seen as a saving grace after a shaky midterm cycle.
For Democrats, the Florida whooping leaves a huge hole in a demographic that arguably Democrats have lost a grip on in recent years and a state Republicans will look to gain further support ahead of the 2024 Presidential election.
It was touted throughout the election cycle that the Latino vote would be a crucial one in the midterms that could determine the political trajectory of the country. Results in Florida at least, have proved the potency of one side.