Democrats for years counted on victories in Florida, but that support collapsed in 2020 as many Hispanic voters shifted to the Republican Party.
Many have switched because they have taken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' style of leadership, according to the Florida GOP, including his firm stance against lockdowns and vaccine mandates and his battle against culture wars, including against Disney, reports the Washington Examiner.
State records show that the number of Hispanic voters registered as Republicans increased by about 15% from August 2020 (587,552 registered GOP compared with Democrats' 920,324) to August 2022 (Republicans had 676,826, while Democrats had 902,744).
"Hispanics really like leadership with a backbone," Helen Aguirre Ferre, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, told the news outlet. "They really do recognize that it's important to have a strong leader, and the governor has a way where he can use the same language and demeanor whether he's speaking to Wall Street and to Main Street in the same way. That authentic voice makes a big difference."
President Joe Biden lost Florida to former President Donald Trump in 2020 by 373,231 votes. And Florida Republicans have attempted to capitalize on that success by investing heavily in Hispanic outreach; in May, DeSantis announced his campaign was spending $5.3 million in ad buys, all in Spanish.
"As Joe Biden and the Democrat Party continue to lose their footing with the Hispanic community, Republicans are gaining and growing," the DeSantis campaign told Fox News at the time. "Spanish-speaking Hispanics in Florida and across the country are moving towards Governor Ron DeSantis because of his emphasis on economic opportunity, education, public safety, and other family-focused policies. This is our first media investment of the campaign, proving the importance we are placing on sharing our freedom agenda with Spanish-speaking voters across the state of Florida."
DeSantis' decision to transport mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha's Vineyard last week could hurt the governor, though, according to Politico.
"From a Miami perspective, it's a huge mistake," said state Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat challenging incumbent Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla. "All these Republicans — including my opponent — historically talk about socialism and communism and that we are standing up to these horrible dictators. The migrants are fleeing exactly what Republicans say they are fighting against."
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