Results of 2018 Survey of Latino Voters in the State of Florida Announced

Survey shows attitude of Latino voters are split on the Nelson/Scott race, are unified on re-building Puerto Rico as an important issue for elected officials, and Puerto Ricans in particular harshly criticizing Trump for not doing enough.

Orlando, FL - On Monday, August 13, 2018, Hispanic Federation, Latino Victory Fund, Alianza for Progress and the Power 4 Puerto Rico coalition announced the results of a major survey of Latino voters in Florida including voter registration status, and opinions on some of the state's and the nation's most pressing issues, noted candidates and officials.

The survey notes that half of the Latino electorate in Florida is now Cuban and Puerto Rican (28% and 22% respectively) reflecting a demographic shift of voters, accelerated by the recent migration of Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria. The various Latino groups’ opinions are similar on immigration and attitudes towards climate change, but differ politically. For example, 77% of all Latinos believe global warming is happening, including 78% of Puerto Ricans and 71% of Cubans. However, politically, almost two of every three Puerto Ricans rate Trump unfavorably (62% to 28%) while Cubans are more favorable, 55% to 35% unfavorable.

The response of governmental entities and officials to the recent wave of Puerto Ricans settling in Florida is believed to be appropriate by 41% of all Latinos in the state, including 46% of Puerto Ricans and 51% of Cubans. However, President Trump’s performance is harshly criticized. Only 28% of all Latinos believe he has done enough, “the right amount”, while 58% indicate he has not done enough. The criticism is harshest among Puerto Ricans with almost three of every four indicating that the President has not done enough: 72%.

The treatment of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island has become a unifying factor among Latino voters in Florida. When asked about important issues that Florida’s next U.S. Senator should address, rebuilding of Puerto Rico emerges as key for 64% of the Latino electorate, with 82% of Puerto Ricans and 58% of Cubans indicating it is a priority for them.

Many political pundits, including both Republican and Democratic operatives, believe that this year’s senatorial race could be decided by the Latino vote. Latino voters in the state view both Governor Rick Scott and Senator Bill Nelson more favorably than unfavorably: Rick Scott (46% favorable, 35% unfavorable) and Bill Nelson (34%, 26%). But still two of every Latino voters (40%) cannot rate Nelson while only one in five (19%) cannot rate Scott’s performance.

In spite of this “knowledge” gap, Nelson has a small lead over Scott on an election contest, 44% to 41% with 15% undecided. The key to Nelson’s victory among Latinos depends on continuing to get a large percentage of Cubans (33% over 57% for Scott), while consolidating the Puerto Rican vote. Puerto Ricans now prefer Nelson, but only 44 to 33% with 19% undecided. Nelson should be worried since two

key Puerto Rican constituencies – Puerto Rican men and non-college graduate Puerto Ricans – are now in the Scott column. Overall, Nelson does best with women 55+ (50%), among college graduates (49%), in the North (55%), East (50%) and Orlando Region (52%), and among Democrats (72%). Nelson leads among independents, 43% to 35%. Scott does best with Republicans (78%), men 55+ (48%), non- college men (48%), in Miami (49%) and with Cuban Americans (57%).

On issues, job creation, affordable housing, immigration and climate change emerge as key issues for Latinos. On an open-ended question, over one in five (22%) raised immigration, like family separations and Dreamers, as the key issue affecting them. Jobs (9%) and health-related issues (7%) were distant second and third on their list of problems. But a deeper dive into these issues show 83%, including 84% of Puerto Ricans and 89% of Cubans, believe creating jobs has to be a high priority for the next Senator. Expanding health coverage is of high importance to 76% of all Latino voters, especially among Puerto Ricans, 81%. Most Latinos (61%) believe that the State of Florida has not done enough to create housing, including similar responses by both Puerto Ricans and Cubans, 62% and 55% respectively.

On the issue of global warming, most believe it is happening - 77% of Latinos agree on this reality and 76% believe it is serious. Both Cubans and Puerto Ricans believe that global warming is real, 71% and 78% respectively, and even 56% of Latino Republicans believe it is happening.

The current political situation in the country is impacting Latinos in Florida both electorally and politically. Almost eight out of every ten Latinos (78%) indicate they will be voting in more elections. Many Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans, indicate they will be registering others to vote, 65% and 67% respectively. Large numbers of Latinos are so motivated politically that 45% indicate they will be attending political events and 44% assert they will get involved in political campaigns.

José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation, stated: “Latinos are at the center of historic debates taking place across the country and this poll shows that Latino Floridians are both eager and ready to significantly shape and influence local and national elections. These findings make it clearer than ever that those running for office must address our community’s issues and concerns if they want to obtain political power.”

Melissa Mark-Viverito, Campaign Director for Power 4 Puerto Rico, said: “Eleven months after Maria, Puerto Rico and its thousands of displaced families are still in crisis. This survey shows that for Puerto Rican voters –a critically important voting block in Florida– Trump's epic failure and disregard in responding to Hurricane Maria is very present in their minds and will affect how they cast their ballots. Our community is listening and watching intently, and will make electoral decisions based on who has concretely rallied for the well-being and future of Puerto Rican families and who has not.”

Luis Miranda, Board chair for Latino Victory Fund and founding partner of MirRam Group, said: “The Florida Senate race is wide open in spite of Nelson’s slight advantage over Scott. For Scott, who is better known and still favorably rated by Puerto Ricans, the path to victory is to focus on this segment of the Latino electorate while consolidating the Cuban vote. On the other hand, Nelson needs to increase his share of voters among Latino independents and Puerto Ricans while continuing to get a plurality of Cubans.

Marcos Vilar, Director for Alianza for Progress, stated: "Puerto Ricans have historically been affected by hurricanes. For those of us who have moved to Florida, natural disasters continue to be a growing threat due to global warming. Our communities seek political leadership that will take proactive measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. It is very encouraging for those of us who work in civic engagement to see, in the results of this poll, the high levels of motivation that Latinos are bringing into these midterms elections on one of the most critical issues of our generation."