Saturday, September 02, 2017

Venezuelan-Americans as Voters

The Miami Herald has a piece that is part of a trend toward portraying Venezuelans in Florida as a voting bloc that politicians need to pay attention to.

And as Republicans look to defeat Nelson and maintain majorities throughout Florida in 2018, attacking Democrats on Venezuela could pay off politically, even if Florida Democrats are now talking tough on Venezuela.

Unfortunately, the article only provides quotes from Republicans and has no data. A recent article in Americas Quarterly suggests that in already heavily Cuban-American Florida districts like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's, Venezuelan-American voters are about 10% of the total. Elsewhere that's much lower. It also notes that Venezuelans do not appear to vote as predictably as Cuban Americans once did. In practice, this could mean agreeing with today's version of the Republican Party on Venezuela but not much else.

I've heard plenty about Venezuelans in the United States voting in Venezuelan elections (where the government has made it as inconvenient as possible, such as forcing people in Florida to vote in new Orleans, knowing how they lean) but not so much in U.S. elections. Plus, of course, when they arrive from Venezuela they are not eligible to vote so this takes a lot of time. However, they have the money and the successful lobbying model of the Cuban American community to emulate.

It does mean that candidates will find themselves needing to address the crisis in Venezuela more than they did in the past. The 5-10% in a district may or may not sway an election, but if they jam the polls during primaries then you need to pay attention to them even to get to the general election.


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