It wasn't that long ago when Republicans could find a strong base of support among Florida's Hispanic population. Both Jeb and George W. Bush enjoyed a majority of Latino voters' support in their runs for governor and president. According to at least one exit poll, even Rick Scott had a small lead among Hispanic voters in his first run for governor in 2010.
The Hispanic community in Florida is far more diverse than it is in the rest of America, which makes the Latino vote harder to court with a one-size-fits-all approach and more difficult to measure.
Well, it appears Donald Trump has almost single-handedly undone any semblance of competitiveness Republicans had in the state among that group. According to a new American Voices poll of Hispanic voters in Florida, Hillary Clinton would wipe the floor with Donald Trump by 69 to 18 percent. That's an astounding 51-point margin.
Clinton appears to be especially popular among Hispanic Florida
Here's the breakdown:
Clinton vs. Trump: 69 to 18 percent
Clinton vs. Cruz: 58 to 36 percent
Sanders vs. Trump: 64 to 20
Sanders vs. Cruz: 49 to 40
Those numbers include both definite backers as well as voters who lean that way.
Here's the favorable/unfavorable split for each candidate:
Bernie Sanders holds well for a guy who performed particularly poorly in the Democratic primary here (especially among Latino voters), but Florida Hispanics generally view Clinton as more pro-immigration than her primary foe.
The unpopularity of the Republican candidates — Trump in particular — could have effects on down-ballot races as well. The poll found 46 percent said the Democratic Party "truly cares about the Latino community." Only 22 percent say the same of the Republican
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Another 43 percent say the Republican Party has become more hostile toward Hispanics in the past few
Florida's Hispanic community is one of the most diverse in the nation, to the point that many recent pollsters and politicians argue against viewing Latinos as a uniform group.
Indeed, while 64 percent of Hispanics nationwide are Mexican, only 15 percent are in Florida. In this state, 29 percent are Cuban, while 20 percent are Puerto Rican. The rest (a full 36 percent) are still from other countries. The population is almost equally split between native and foreign-born Hispanics as well.
That diversity has made the Hispanic vote in Florida harder to predict than elsewhere. Indeed, Trump is even more unpopular among Hispanics elsewhere, but his overall anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric seems to have united the demographic in opposition unlike any other candidate in recent memory.