How Hillary Clinton Burned Bernie in Florida (Especially in Miami-Dade)

Hillary ClintonEXPAND
Hillary Clinton
Courtesy of U.S. Department of State

Florida, it seems, didn't feel the Bern. Sure, young voters aged 18 to 29 turned out in large numbers (they made up 16 percent of primary voters, compared to only 9 percent in 2008) and largely voted for Bernie Sanders. But Hillary Clinton won, well, almost everyone else across the board on her way to a major victory in Florida last night. Let's take a look at why. 

South Florida Was Hillary's Best Urban Performance Yet
Hillary Clinton has been racking up wins in part thanks to strong showings in big cities. Of the majorly populated counties that have voted so far, she won Texas' Harris County (Houston) and Dallas County by 71 percent and Bexar County (San Antonio) by 67 percent. She won Georgia's Dekalb and Fulton counties (the Atlanta area) by 71 percent too. 

Miami-Dade, however, was her single best performance in a major county so far in the primaries. She received 75 percent of the vote here. She received 73 percent in Broward and 71 percent in Palm Beach.

Sanders won in only six precincts in all of Miami-Dade County, including the University of Miami's on-campus precinct, where he won by just 15 votes. 

So, Yeah, Maybe Bernie's Socialism Probably Didn't Help
Can Hillary's major win in Miami be partially attributed to Bernie's identity as a socialist and his past flirtations with Fidel Castro? That might explain why this was her best big county to date, but clearly there's more to it. 

Too Many Floridians Thought Bernie's Policy Proposals Were Unrealistic 
Forty-eight percent of Democratic voters thought Sanders' policies were "not realistic," compared to just 46 percent who did, according to exit polls. On the flip side, 77 percent thought Hillary's proposals were achievable and realistic, compared to only 17 percent who didn't. 

Florida Democrats Wanted Someone Experienced, Electable, and Able to Beat Trump 
Thirty-five percent of Florida Dems said "experience" was the top quality they look for in a candidate (88 percent voted for Clinton). Another 13 percent said "electability," and Clinton won that group by 86 percent.

Sanders, however, won among the 24 percent of Floridians who said "honesty" was the top quality they want in candidate. Turns out honesty may not be the best policy in Florida. Seventy-six percent of Florida Dems said Sanders was honest and trustworthy (indicating that many like him despite the fact that they didn't vote for him). A lesser 64 percent said they same of Clinton. 

Meanwhile, 75 percent of voters thought Clinton had the better chance of beating Trump in November. 

Bernie Might Have Been Seen as Too Anti-Business
Twenty-seven percent of voters thought Bernie's views were too anti-business, compared to just 5 percent who said the same of Clinton. 

Perhaps related, a plurality (36 percent) said the economy and jobs were the top issues of the election, and those voters split 67-29 for Clinton. 

Women Turned Out Huge 
Fifty-nine percent of Democrats who voted were women, and they split for Hillary 68-30. Clinton still won men 61-38 (though Sanders won among white men), but the strong showing of women put her over the top. 

Sanders Just Never Spent Much Time Here or Customized His Message for Florida
As we noted, both candidates missed major opportunities to talk about housing as they came to Florida. Sanders has a strong record on affordable housing, yet he never bothered to tell Florida much about it. He didn't do enough to paint himself as the better choice on climate change either. In fact, the campaign didn't do much at all to try to win Florida. 

Trade Talk Doesn't Work Much Here
Heading into Michigan last week, Sanders started hitting Clinton hard on her past support for trade agreements. Of course, trade and trade agreements are complicated issues that boil down to voters asking, "What does that mean to my job?" In Florida, there aren't tons of manufacturing jobs. International trade, however, is big business in several cities. Separating himself from Clinton on trade may help Sanders in a lot of Rust Belt states, but it certainly didn't help in Florida. 

Frankly, This Is Just How Florida Democrats Vote in Primaries 
The establishment chooses a candidate, and Florida Democratic voters in primaries go, "OK." C'mon, they selected Charlie Crist as their last gubernatorial candidate. 

Primary voters know Florida is always a close swing state, and on the Democratic side, they usually just end up voting for the person they think has the better chance of getting elected, not necessarily who they think best represents their own political ideals (and to be certain, 56 percent of voters in the election described themselves as "liberal").  

Left-wing idealism is fun if you can afford it in blue states, but Florida voters decided to pick who they thought was the safer choice. 


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >