Election Day has come and gone and in the GOP mostly prevailed in Florida with just two exceptions in the U.S. House of Representatives. Governor Rick Scott edged out U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by just over 10,000 votes after the recount fiasco came to an end with a bitter concession from Nelson.
One glaring number I am looking at after this defeat is Nelson’s Exit Poll with Latinos compared to Scott.
Nelson won 54% of Latinos, but Scott was still able to pull 45% of them in an environment where the President of the United States is highly unpopular with the demographic.
To compare: Hillary Clinton won 62% of Latinos in 2016 compared to 35% for Donald Trump and even Marco Rubio failed to win the Latino vote by a slim margin that year against a fairly weak opponent (and he is Latino himself).
Nelson also underperformed the national Democrats numbers with Latinos which was 69-29.
Cuban-Americans who are mostly Republican can be counted for part of this. However, warning sirens have been up since at least June 2018 that Bill Nelson needed to connect more with Latinos.
Rick Scott took care to include messaging in Spanish, hire specialists, and to try and chip away from Nelson however he could. He had a Spanish website up and running before Nelson and Spanish ads running ahead of him. He ran to setup help centers for Puerto Ricans arriving in the state from Hurricane Maria. Why wouldn’t a Democrat try and do this first?
It should have been a cakewalk with this demographic.
It is true that Scott had a huge fundraising advantage initially against Nelson, but there were plenty of ways Nelson could have changed that by more active in the communities around him.
Nelson did improve incredibly with Latinos compared to his numbers June (most likely because of the President’s unpopularity with the group and some attack ads), but it was not enough. Scott was up in polls as recently as August of this year.
When will Democrats learn that Latinos are a community that needs to be engaged with every year and not just when you need their votes? Bill Nelson was in office for 18 years, but still didn’t have a connection to these communities until this year. Huge mistake.
Those 10,000 votes were probably sitting inside of that missed opportunity.
Hopefully the next candidate to run in Florida will think about connecting with Latinos before they need their vote instead of when they notice they are in trouble and need our vote.
We live here every year not just during election year.