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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Will Puerto Rican Migrants Turn FL Blue?

The political fallout of Hurricane Maria may well include a transformational effect on one of the most influential swing states, reports Sam Petula in his post, “The Puerto Rican migration could shape Florida politics for years to come” at CNN Politics:

Figures on school enrollment provided to CNN from the Florida Department of Education suggest that well over 50,000 Puerto Ricans will have moved to Florida and made it their residence heading into the midterm election next year…These voters are likely to be strong Democrat supporters, as an analysis by Dan Smith, a University of Florida professor, found that heavily-Puerto Rican districts only gave 15 to 35% support to Trump.

…With a colleague, Melendez found that if 9,600 Puerto Rican children enroll in schools, that means a total of about 41,000 Puerto Ricans migrated to Florida. On the high end, if 15,400 students enroll, an estimated 83,000 Puerto Ricans migrated. There is a very high probability based on the current trend that the lower estimate will be surpassed by next November. Migration at this level will mean Republicans face an even harsher demographic shift in a state already trending away from them. Hispanics constituted an estimated 12% of the eligible voter population in Florida in 2000. Before the Hurricane, that number was expected to double by 2030.

In her Facing South “Institute Index” blog, Sue Sturgis adds some numbers that Democrats should find encouraging:

Number of Puerto Ricans who currently live in Florida, a political swing state: over 1 million

Number of Puerto Ricans expected to arrive in Florida’s Orlando area alone in the next few months: more than 100,000

Percentage points by which the last two presidential and gubernatorial races were decided in Florida: less than 1<

Percent of Florida’s non-Cuban Latino vote that went to Hillary Clinton: about 70

Clinton’s edge over Trump among Florida’s Puerto Rican voters: 3 to 1

Given Florida’s history of voter suppression, Democrats should be only cautiously optimistic about the political effects of the Puerto Rican migration to Florida. But it’s clear that Democrats have much to gain by putting some muscle into voter registration and GOTV targeting Puerto Rican migrants, who have a bone or two to pick with Republicans who have neglected the crisis in their homeland.

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