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South Florida gives Republicans a playbook for the 2024 election

Martha Casamayor, center, says Joe Biden "stabbed Cuban Americans in the back" and regrets voting for him. South Florida Latinos like her are key to Republicans expanding their political reach in future elections.
Claudia Grisales
/
NPR
Martha Casamayor, center, says Joe Biden "stabbed Cuban Americans in the back" and regrets voting for him. South Florida Latinos like her are key to Republicans expanding their political reach in future elections.

Republicans did not see the red wave they were betting on during last year's midterms, so now they're setting their sights on expanding success stories that did break through, such as the big gains they made in South Florida.

The largely conservative Latino community in Miami-Dade County turned red last year for the first time in two decades.

Who are they? The Latino community in South Florida is largely conservative, and includes immigrants from Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela and other Latin American countries.

What's the big deal? South Florida marks a community where politics seemingly never sleeps. And it's also where the political ground game for 2024 is already underway.

  • Kevin Cooper, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Miami-Dade County says he's gotten calls from Republican Election Committees and other GOP groups in Texas and beyond hoping to replicate the South Florida model.
  • Florida International University politics professor Eduardo Gamarra says an early, relentless ground game by Republicans helped flip the Miami-Dade region red. Gamarra says Democrats set up their ground game too late and treated Latino voters there like a monolith, potentially costing them a generation of voters.
  • Former Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell says depressed voter turnout, culture war issues and Republican disinformation played a key role last year. She also concedes her party has abandoned the state.
  • Voters like Martha Casamayor, a 73-year-old Cuban American, says President Joe Biden, his administration and Democrats have betrayed voters like her. Casamayor says they haven't applied enough pressure on the Cuban communist regime and issued proposals to expand trade with the country.

  • Want to learn more? Listen to the NPR Politics podcast episode on how Latino GOP voters have embraced the culture war.


    What are people saying?

    Casamayor on Democrats:

    (Biden) stabbed Cuban Americans in the back ... The Biden administration has betrayed the Cuban Americans ... He has betrayed the Cuban Americans who voted for him.

    Cooper on hearing from different Republican Election Committees, or REC, asking about the Miami-Dade County model:

    We take that message across across the county and soon will take it across the country as we explain to different RECs and different parties how to build their operations.

    Mucarsel-Powell on why Democrats shouldn't give up on Florida:

    If you care about the environment, you need to care about Florida. If you care about minority groups, if you care about Latinos, you need to care about Florida. And we've been abandoned.

    Gamarra on Republican successes in South Florida:

    Republicans understand better the idea of the Latino American dream and Democrats still, for the most part, approach Latinos as part of the civil rights struggle in the United States.

    So, what now?

  • It will be a key area to watch in the run up to the 2024 presidential election.
  • Republicans are working to hold onto and expand on their midterm wins in South Florida, while Democrats are looking at a long road back to try to rebuild their Florida operations.
  • Learn more:

  • Florida left-leaning groups say their voters stayed home
  • Florida Latino voters face election misinformation
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.