President Donald Trump pulled off a surprisingly strong showing in the traditional Democratic Party stronghold of Miami-Dade County to secure victory in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state.
Trump appears to have built a foothold in South Florida in part by appealing to Cuban-American and Venezuelan-American voters from families that fled Latin American strongmen. In his many trips to the region, Trump sought to tar Democrats as leftist radicals and socialists in the mold of some of those governments.
Trump drew 51.3% of the votes statewide to Democrat Joe Biden’s 47.8% as of 12:42 a.m. Wednesday. Biden still won in Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest county, but he had just 53.3% of the vote to Trump’s 46% as of early Wednesday. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton won 63% to Trump’s 34%.
Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes are a major prize for Trump, who would have struggled to stay afloat without them. The win could have a long-lasting impact on how the parties view the political map in Florida. Democrats have always relied on the three big South Florida counties — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — to offset losses in staunchly Republican rural parts of the state.
Trump has had particular success among Cuban-Americans who arrived recently, according to a Florida International University study, which showed 76% of Cubans who arrived from 2010 to 2015 were registered as Republicans.
For many Florida Cuban-Americans, Biden is also associated with President Barack Obama’s decision to re-engage with Cuba. Critics said the policy change gave the Cuban regime an economic lifeline, while asking too little in return.