Republican candidates are getting ready for the Florida primary, scheduled for Jan. 31 2012, hoping they can secure the party nomination by winning the valuable swing state. Before Florida we’ll see how successful candidates are in New Hampshire and South Carolina, but Florida might be the most critical race. Mitt Romney’s campaign getting the endorsement of Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Congressman Mario
Diaz-Balart, and former state Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart – all of whom are Cuban-Americans — says something about Republicans’ strategy in the state. To win Florida, courting Hispanic voters will be critical.
Among the exciting dynamics in Florida is the fact that the GOP national committee decided to not give proportional delegates to the GOP Florida convention, a blow back after Florida state GOP officials decided to push up the Florida primary in spite of the national committee telling it not to. Remember the support of Florida may secure the nomination for the candidate like it did in 2008 when John McCain beat Mitt Romney in Florida to seal the party nomination. The number of absentee ballots requested by Florida Republicans alone is around the amount of three Iowa and two New Hampshire caucuses. Talk about influence.
Twenty three percent of Florida is made up of Hispanics who are historically conservative. Immigration will be an issue talked about but it is not the only way to get Hispanics on a candidate’s side.
In a CNN interview after Romney’s win in Iowa when confronted about vetoing the Dream Act and potentially giving the Hispanic vote to Barack Obama, Romney says he will assure his Latino supporters he “knows the economy.” Promises to improve the economy will be one of many ways to win over Hispanic votes in Florida, especially as 43% of Latinos agree in a recent poll that jobs and the economy are their top pressing issues.
You can expect that Florida’s key issue has Latino influence written all over it when Hispanic Independents weigh in at 40% in Florida.
Photo Credit: Kevin Hutchinson