Florida’s Latino voters are politically divided
The Hispanic voter growth has increased compared to previous election cycles making
17% of Florida’s registered voters Latinos.
There are 2.5 million registered Latino voters in Florida, which is about 500,000 more than the presidential election in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
President Trump focused on gaining the Latino vote in Florida. The populous Miami-Dade County and its influx of Latino Trump supporters helped the president win Florida. According to NBC News, Trump’s support in Miami improved as he went from 333,999 votes in 2016 to reaching more than 529,000 votes in the 2020 election.
As one of the largest voting blocs, here's what local Latino Republican and Democrat voters have to say about the policies and issues that are important to them.
Many Republicans voiced similar opinions as to why they believed Trump should stay in office for another term.
“Personally, I believe that the candidates have to have a heart and passion for their country as well as a commitment to what they are saying,” Trump supporter Manu Gonzalez said. “Trump is securing the best economy that we have ever had. He knows what he is doing in terms of making sure the country is financially stable, something that Biden will not do.”
In terms of policies, many of the registered voters who side with Trump agree that reconstructing the economy is one of the main reasons they believe Trump has been and will continue to “make America great again.”
Rene Chavez, a hardwood flooring business owner, explained his reasons were voting for Trump as a Latino immigrant from Colombia. He voted early because he didn’t want to get caught in the possible crowds on Election Day.
“My job in construction has been better ever since Trump was voted in office. The economy has bettered in many ways, people are not afraid to invest,” Chavez said. “Trump is not a politician, but he does as he promises. He is a strong character, and we need that in times that are as difficult as now.”
Chavez expressed that Democratic policies lean towards socialism, and as a Latino, he doesn’t want his family to experience socialism in America.
In regards to the border wall Trump has been building, many Latinos agree that it’s a great policy.
“Latinos might feel like it’s not a good thing, how Trump is building a wall,” Chavez said. “But even as an immigrant myself, I can see how it is needed. He has fought to be able to build the wall like promised, and it is a way to keep our country safe.”
Sofia Perez, a 19-year-old immigrant from Venezuela, also supports building a border wall.
“[Trump] doesn’t want to open the borders to everyone, and I agree,” Perez said. “I know I am an immigrant, but think about it. Good people come in, but having the borders open allows for bad people as well. We have to think of the future of this country.”
She voted early because she felt it showed her commitment to the country she’s currently living in as well as a commitment to herself and wanting to make a difference.
When asked about Trump’s past racist and sexist remarks, Perez said they didn’t affect her decision.
“Coming from a Hispanic household, I have learned to keep tough skin. It’s unfortunate, but the sexist remarks don’t hurt me because of it,” Perez said. “In no way do I disregard what he has said, it is wrong. But I also know he has passed bills to invest in and empower women. People have to see that compared to things he stupidly said in the past.”
Perez mentioned that as a Latina Christian, keeping God in schools is a matter that she takes into consideration. Like Chavez, she also fears that Biden will lead America to socialism.
As a Republican, Perez mentioned that she mainly voted for the Republican party, not the candidate. She feels as if the media does not portray either candidate accurately, and therefore is voting based on what principals matter to her.
“[Trump] can be very outspoken and arrogant, but I also believe many people see him that way because that is the only face social media shows.”
Many of the Republicans took into account the same policies that mattered to them the most. For them, their main concerns included improving the economy, lowering unemployment rates, moving away from socialist-ideals, and endorsing anti-abortion.
The Latino Democrats considered separate policies that led them to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. What mattered to them were climate change policies, abortion rights and racial injustices.
“I wouldn’t say Joe Biden is my favorite candidate, but I’m settling because my priority is to get Trump out of office,” Keyanna Diaz, an 18-year-old first-time voter from the Dominican Republic, said.
For Diaz, climate change policies and healthcare are very important issues that Trump has failed to address. She also expressed how she disliked the way Trump approached the coronavirus pandemic.
“You can’t ignore the science,” Diaz said. “At least Joe Biden acknowledges climate change and wants to enforce renewable energy. Latinos are on the frontlines of the climate crisis. People in Florida are facing it, so we need to do something about it.”
Diaz also mentioned that because she came from a Latino background, universal healthcare was extremely important. She believes it’s a right of the people, not a privilege.
“I respect everyone’s opinion, but education is important. We need a president that looks beyond the next four years as this is the future of America,” Diaz said. “He also hasn’t done anything for the racial injustices, he hasn’t been a voice for the people.”
Carolina Sanchez, daughter of two hard working immigrants, voted early to fulfill her civic duty and show other generations the importance of voting. She voted for the Democratic party because Biden’s policies aligned more with her beliefs. Essentially, she felt like she chose between the lesser of two evils.
The policies and issues that Sanchez thinks are important to consider when picking a presidential candidate include racial and social justice and environmental policies behind climate change that provide more eco-friendly jobs.
“I also like his policies on healthcare and the education opportunities he wants to provide,” Sanchez said. “ He wants to give everyone the freedom to choose for themselves.”
Sanchez doesn’t believe Biden will turn the country into a socialist nation and went on to say that people can vote against any of his policies when the time comes. For Sanchez, what matters is getting Trump out of office.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was a large topic amongst many Democrats as they seek racial equality.
“BLM is bringing attention to the evidential injustice in this country. It will continue to be a voice to the unheard, and we can’t diminish that,” Sanchez said. “The media wants to cover riots and looting, but that is not the essence of the movement.”
Both Republicans and Democrats agreed that the media is biased and doesn’t truly portray facts and neutrality.
“I think the media is biased, but it doesn’t lean to one party,” Diaz said. “The media is just intended to divide us. It’s not a red or blue problem, it’s an American problem. We need to respect the views and just face the issues together.”
Chavez, a republican believes that the media indeed is biased and it favors Democrats.
“Fake news is all we see,” he said. “It is clear how the media continually targets Trump and tries to make Biden the good guy. The secrecy, the misleading questions, it’s hard to find outlets that want to accurately inform the public.”
Both parties shared their very distinct views on the political campaign and which issues surpassed in importance. The division between the Latino community was represented in the way each party spoke about the other. But beyond that, each side spoke strongly in what they believed in, and they were thankful for the opportunity to vote and have their voice be counted in the American Democracy.
By Daniella Parra