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Val Demings’s Strategy for Winning Florida’s Latino Vote: Open Borders, Weak Foreign Policy, and Copying Biden

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On April 15, Gary Fineout, the Floridian political analyst, wrote for Politico’s Playbook where he analyzed several facts that explained how the Sunshine State is moving from being a swing state to becoming a GOP stronghold. One of the big reasons for this political swing, the analyst pointed out, is because the Latino vote in Florida is increasingly red.

What Fineout says is backed up by data. During the 2020 general election—when former President Trump lost the election to Biden but won Florida by making big gains in the Latino vote—Democrats had 192,500 more Latino Democrats in their ranks in South and Central Florida than Hispanic Republicans. “That margin has shrunk by more than 35,000 since then,” the Politico analyst explained.

Another fact that exemplifies the growth of the GOP with respect to the Latino vote is the approval ratings that President Biden maintains among Hispanics. According to a recent CBS-YouGov poll, 54% of Hispanics disapprove of the president’s job, while a surprising 32% say they strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance. The numbers speak for themselves.

Considering that the midterms are just around the corner and that they are a pivotal election for the future of the Democratic Party and the Biden administration itself, it is logical to think that the blue party would look for an alternative to containing the bleeding of Latino voters who are leaving with the GOP. However, this is far from the case.

Val Demings y su fracasada campaña para conquistar el voto latino en Florida
Congresswoman Val Demings speaks during a meeting of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on “Online Platforms and Market Power” in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (EFE) 

The positions that could doom Demings: Open borders,

Val Demings, Sen. Marco Rubio’s Democratic contender, is being criticized by the Republican’s own campaign team for duplicating President Biden’s Hispanic campaign in his race for a Senate seat.

According to the Rubio campaign, Demings, suffering from an apparent crisis of creativity, even copied Biden’s slogan by calling his campaign “Todos con Demings” (Everyone with Demings) replicating the famous slogan “Todos con Biden” (Everyone with Biden).

While it’s clear that on the Republican side it is convenient to associate Demings with Biden as one of the most unpopular presidents in history, especially among Latinos, the reality is that Demings has done everything possible to align herself with Biden’s policy positions.

For instance, on April 7, Demings showed her support for President Biden’s proposal to eliminate Title 42, which could generate a significant increase of immigrants, deepening the already complex border crisis.

The flow of undocumented immigrants at the border grew since Biden took office, generating many problems for the immigration system and also causing much suffering for those same migrants who were then affected by the humanitarian crisis at the border.

In fact, the border crisis generated significant discontent among Americans, especially among Hispanics, according to an Economist/YouGov poll that found that only 21% of Hispanics approve of Biden’s handling of immigration. Certainly, supporting Biden’s unpopular immigration policies at this time does not seem like a wise decision on Val Demings’ part in her efforts to compete against Marco Rubio.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 26, 2021. (EFE)

Another issue where Demings has failed to resonate with the large Hispanic communities in Florida, such as the Cuban community, is in her discourse on the socialist regimes of Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua, vital communities to winning elections in the Sunshine State.

Regarding the Cuba case, Demings has a negative record on her shoulders because, prior to running for the Senate, she had never even mentioned or assumed a clear stance against the Castro regime. When she did, during the July 2021 protests on the island, Demings took the opportunity to start sending messages of support to the Cuban people. She was criticized by Rubio’s campaign team for this and even the press raised doubts about the Democrat’s good intentions.

Venezuela is another elusive case for Demings, amidst criticism of the Biden administration for initiating talks in Venezuela with the Maduro regime to evaluate the lifting of oil sanctions, the Democrat only released a very weak statement where she explained that she was “skeptical” of the negotiations.

In addition to immigration and foreign policy, Val Demings has also been evidenced on issues of importance to Floridians’ daily lives, such as the excessive increase in gas prices.

When Demings was asked about her support for the Green New Deal and liberal clean energy policies that directly affect energy production and gasoline prices, the congresswoman declared she does not support the progressive Green New Deal initiative and accused Marco Rubio, her opponent, of playing politics against her.

However, according to The Washington Free Beacon, “Demings co-sponsored the THRIVE Agenda, a $10 billion liberal environmental bill promoted by the Green New Deal Network. The legislation calls for a carbon-free electric grid by 2035 and ensures that federal funds allocated through the bill do not expand fossil fuel infrastructure.” 

Clearly, not just the Hispanic, but every American who suffers from rising gas prices will not be happy with the party that chooses to blame the Russian invasion or corporations for rising fuel without taking responsibility for their own policies.

At the end of the day, the numbers are clear: as of today, Val Demings would need a miracle to overtake Senator Rubio. The main polls in the country show the Republican far ahead of his Democratic opponent with a difference between eight to ten points to his advantage.

The Latino vote, which represents approximately 17% of the electorate in Florida, seems to be leaning more towards the GOP, leaving Demings and the Democrats adrift.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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