Are Cubans about to turn Florida red again?
In 2000, many will tell you that Governor Bush got a big help out of the Elian Gonzalez episode. It certainly didn't hurt! He won by less than a 1,000 votes out of 7 million.
In 2012, President Obama beat Governor Romney by less than a point. I wonder who would have won Florida if Cuban-Americans had known that the Obama administration was having secret talks with Cuba to re-establish relations.
In 2016, Cuba is back in the news again. The issue is that many of us disagree with the Obama approach toward Cuba, a policy that seems to have benefited the Castro dictatorship at the expense of the Cuban people.
I don't live in Florida, but my hunch may prove right on election day, as Andres Oppenheimer wrote this week:
If Republican candidate Donald Trump wins Florida, as some polls predict, and goes on to win the Nov. 8 election – a big if, but not an impossible outcome – he might have President Obama to thank for lending him a hand in the final stretch of the race.
Obama’s Oct. 14 decision to further relax the U.S. embargo on Cuba by allowing American tourists to bring back unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars, as well as his Oct. 26 decision to abstain for the first time in a United Nations vote against the U.S. embargo on Cuba, have probably pushed many undecided Cuban Americans in Florida to vote for Trump.
“Cubans return to Trump,” read a sub-headline of The New York Times Upshot/Siena University poll released Oct. 27, which gave Trump a four-point lead in Florida. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was leading in the same poll only a month earlier.
The poll’s explanatory text by The New York Times’ Nate Cohn said that Trump’s surprising comeback in Florida – the most important swing state – might be thanks to Cuban American voters. Trump’s support among Cuban-American voters in Florida was at 52 percent, up from 33 percent in September, the story said.
My own unscientific poll is that Cubans fall into two camps.
The first camp, or where I reside, is that the Obama opening has opened nothing, except an oxygen line to a failing dictatorship. We are stunned that the Obama administration demanded nothing in return for a U.S. flag in Havana.
The second camp is made up of Cubans who were convinced that an opening would bring hope, or an opportunity for Cuba to change. My guess is that most of those Cubans are not happy with the results. They see more repression and Cubans desperately trying to leave.
On election day, these two groups will vote against the Cuba opening by putting Mr. Trump over the top.