For 30 years, political consultants have been predicting that in the next presidential election, a growing Latino electorate in the United States will finally awaken, sway the outcome, and usher in a new era of Latino political power.
And for 30 years, they have been wrong. The 2020 election may prove no different. Again and again, political analysts have underestimated the diversity among American Latinos. Key segments of the community—specifically Cubans and younger U.S.-born Mexican Americans—support the Republican Party in numbers large enough to mitigate explosive new registration numbers among more Democratic-leaning Latinos. While Donald Trump has lagged behind Joe Biden in national polls, the president is faring better than he did in 2016 among some groups of Latino voters. Surveys in Florida last month showed Trump winning an overwhelming share of the Cuban American vote. Fortunately for Biden, the Democratic nominee still has time to fine-tune his tactics.
That some Latinos might keep the presidency in Trump’s hands is almost unthinkable to those, including me, repelled by Trump’s attacks on people in our community. Hispanic voters in Florida, in particular, may have the power to shift the outcome of the election. But just because Florida, or the U.S. as a whole, has a lot of voters who fall into the Latino category doesn’t guarantee victory for Biden or any other Democrat.