Latinos boosting DeSantis could make him the first GOP governor to win Miami-Dade County in 20 years
The traditionally blue and mostly Latino county could see a flip of party allegiance this November.
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Florida Democrats say Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is vying for reelection this November, could be the first GOP governor to win Miami-Dade County in over 20 years.
Miami-Dade is Florida’s most populous county and is mostly Latino, at over 70%. A potential win in this county would mean the first win for a Republican governor since Jeb Bush in 2002.
Unlike DeSantis, Bush held press conferences in Spanish and his wife is Mexican-born, which helped spread his campaign’s message.
DeSantis’ rise in popularity is coming despite his trafficking of migrants to Northern states via chartered flight, and could be a sign of a successful presidential run in 2024 that he has only teased up to this point.
Democratic consultant and pollster based in Miami, Fernand Amandi, told NBC News that DeSantis is an “outlier” out of other Republican governors and added that he “overperforms here in a way that you don’t tend to see Republican candidates perform elsewhere with Hispanics.”
The GOP favorite has also outraised his opponent, accumulating over $100 million during his re-election campaign, which is a huge number for any gubernatorial candidate no matter party allegiance.
“If Ron DeSantis wins the Latino vote in Florida, which has been a GOP project now for the past decade," said Devon Murphy Anderson, a Democrat and co-founder of the voter registration organization ‘Mi Vecino.’ "Ron DeSantis is going to go directly to his donors and say, 'I can win the presidential nomination and I can beat the Democratic nominee in 2024 because I can win the Latino vote.'”
Many of his donors, including Budget Suites of America tycoon Robert Bigelow, who donated over $10 million this past July, see DeSantis as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. This has frustrated Florida Democrats because they lack much of the resources and money from national donor groups that are available to DeSantis, feeding the narrative that Democrats handed Florida to Republicans after losing the 2020 election.
Some of DeSantis’ headlining policies have, according to some state Democrats, only contributed to his continuing success and popularity with Latinos.
These include his “Don’t Say Gay” policy for public schools, as well as the recent migrant transportation in which he flew 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, with another round of flights lined up to go to Delaware and Illinois according to his spokesperson. Those latter flights were stalled as he dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Communications director for Crist, Samantha Ramirez, said DeSantis is a "fake ally to our community, someone who smiles in your face but turns around and threatens to bus Cubans to Delaware and spends his time flying asylum-seekers across the country to score political points.
“He acts like the very dictators our communities fled from," she continued.
Democrats won Miami-Dade during Hilary Clinton’s run in the 2016 Presidential election by almost 30 points over Donald Trump, who would go on to infamously win the election. Biden won the county by only seven points during his winning Presidential run in 2020.
According to Anderson, when Clinton won, "Republicans looked at that and instead of throwing their hands up, walking away from the county and saying this is always going to be a blue base, they doubled down in their investment there.”
Anderson added that after Republicans were able to regain ground in that county in 2020, “Democrats threw their hands up and said, 'Latino voters are lost, it’s over — it’s a wrap for us there.'”
Mi Vecino co-founder Alex Berrios, told NBC News, that Democrats have not done enough or well enough in their efforts to reach the Latino community and spread the messaging of their successes which has contributed to DeSantis’ rising popularity. Both Berrios and Murphy Anderson said they have had over 2,000 conversations with Latino voters in Miami-Dade and report that disregarding high enthusiasm for DeSantis among Republicans, 29% of those with no party affiliation and 25% of Democrats said they were voting for the current governor.
Berrios reports that these prospective voters told him that the economy was the main reason they were voting for the GOP in the November elections. Berrios followed up and asked them what improvements they have seen in their job and income in the last four years with DeSantis.
"They usually don't have a response," Berrios said.
The race in Florida has not been much of a fight as most polls have DeSantis leading by a wide margin over Crist. A poll from FiveThirtyEight as of Oct. 27, has DeSantis currently leading Crist, 52.1% to 42.2%. Crist was able to close the gap slightly in September, but has only lost that lead in the time since.
Early voting has begun across the country and in Florida. Election Day is Nov. 8.