The Ethnic Chopping Block

To win the most important election in Dade County history, the top mayoral candidates have hacked the voting public to pieces

Likewise Ferre is expected to attack Teele's association with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and loudly point out (at least within the Jewish community) that Teele is a lifelong registered Republican who worked for Ronald Reagan. Which is why estimating Teele's support in the Jewish community causes fits for so many political consultants. Some argue that the traditional liberal support among Jews for blacks (along with apprehension over the rising Cuban dominance in Dade County) will naturally guarantee Teele between 20 and 30 percent of the vote. For his part, Teele is counting on it.

Lost in this battle is Suarez, who has neither Ferre's string of endorsements nor Penelas's money to attract significant interest in Northeast Dade. But the former Miami mayor has great name recognition and a group of energized volunteers he hopes will attract about 20 percent of the vote.

Registered Voters: 50,000
Projected Turnout: 40 percent
Expected Votes Cast: 17,500

Until recently pollsters and consultants lumped this category of voters in with the overall Hispanic-Cuban-foreign-born category. But as their numbers have grown it has become necessary to separate them because they do not predictably view the world the same way their parents do.

Though determining their precise numbers is tricky, most consultants agree they represent about fifteen percent of the total Hispanic vote. They are the children of those who came to the United States in the Sixties and Seventies, they are under 35 years of age, college educated, and politically less conservative than their parents. They read the Miami Herald, get their news from Channel 7, and they are much more likely to listen to WSHE-FM (103.5) or WIOD-AM (610) than to Spanish-language stations such as Radio Mambi or La Cubanisima.

On election day, American-born Hispanics can be expected to go to the polls at a slightly higher rate than Anglos but at a lower rate than their parents. It would be to Penelas's and Suarez's advantage to draw them out. In the case of Penelas, their support can be attributed to the fact that he is one of them -- a 34-year-old attorney whose parents came from Cuba. He is the symbol of their generation, the embodiment of their readiness to assume power.

Suarez's support, on the other hand, derives from the same attributes that make him attractive to Anglos -- he is seen as clean, untouched by the corruption and special-interest pandering that taints those already in power at county hall.

In the end, Penelas and Suarez are hoping to secure between 30 and 35 percent of the vote each (between 5000 and 6000 votes apiece). Ferre will be satisfied with between 20 and 25 percent. Teele will try to claw his way to about ten percent of the vote.

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