Felicia Persaud (26512)
Felicia Persaud

Latino talking heads and so-called analysts are scratching their heads and having a hard time explaining away the results of the Nov. 8th mid-term elections in Florida, which showed a marked shift to the right again by many Hispanic voters.

The biggest shock of the night on Tuesday, Nov. 8, was the fact that Republican Ron DeSantis was able to turn a once blue county—Miami Dade—bright red, thanks to Latino voters there from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

Yes, Venezuela, despite DeSantis’ human trafficking of a number of asylum seekers from the same South American country less than two months ago. One expected the opposite—a backlash—but that did not come as the Trump mini-me rode the Hispanic wave to victory.

An exit poll shows that a whopping 58% of Latinos voted for DeSantis over the Democratic contender, Charlie Crist. Crist managed to get only 40% of the Latino vote according to the same poll.

Compare that to 2020, when Joe Biden picked up 53% of Latinos voters in Florida compared to 46% who went for Trump and 32% went for Trump nationally to 65% for Biden. That red percentile line has now increased to 39% nationally according to Tuesday’s exit poll.  

So, what led to Latinos, in the Sunshine state especially, to shift so far right in this election? The answer lies in the false ads that were run in Florida during the elections, and which were repeated by voters in Miami-Dade a day after the elections. 

Asked by a CBS Miami reporter on Nov. 9 who they supported and what they did not want, voter after voter interviewed in Miami’s Little Havana, as well as areas that are popular havens for Venezuelan and Nicaraguan immigrants and naturalized U.S. citizens, repeated one word: “Socialism.”

They all told the reporter they had lived through socialism and did not want a repeat, and they feared Democrats will push that agenda here in the United States. As they relayed it to the reporter, they felt they had no choice but to vote Republican since Democrats are embracing socialism or leftist policies.

Are Democrats paying attention to this false narrative that is being piped to what was once their solid base or are they off in the clouds somewhere? Two years ago, in the aftermath of the 2020 elections, when there was again a marked shift towards the right by Latino voters, Equis Labs stated that Hispanics’ concern about socialism has worked “to create space for defection” of voters.

In the post 2020 elections, the polling firm found that 4-in-10 Latinos who voted then were concerned about Democrats embracing socialism. Fear of Democratic embrace of socialist or leftist ideas was highest among U.S. born Cubans, followed by mainland born Puerto Ricans at 57%, the poll found. Latin Americans who are not of Cuban descent or Puerto Rican were equally concerned about socialism in the Democratic Party and fascism in the GOP.

The fear increases in subsequent generations of U.S. Latinos, growing from a concern among 45% of immigrant Latinos to 59% of fourth-generation Latinos, according to the survey.

Stephanie Valencia, co-founder and president of Equis Labs, tied the socialism concern or fear to the near absence of contrary messaging on social media apps such as What’sApp and YouTube, where many Latinos get political news. In its report, Equis deemed the GOP’s messaging on socialism propaganda that is sometimes reduced to disinformation.

“This uncontested propaganda with these closed media ecosystems are feeding this modern red panic, and there is a weaponization of the American Dream,” Valencia said in 2020, adding that the GOP is peddling socialism as the opposite of the American Dream and something that will destroy the dream, creating fear around the socialism label.

In Miami, Cuban American María Elvira Salazar won back her congressional seat from State Sen. Annette Taddeo, over a “horrendous” attack ad accusing Taddeo of rubbing elbows with Black, Democratic socialists.

The ad was part of a $1.7 million reservation in English-and Spanish-language airtime the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund made to help Salazar keep her seat representing Florida’s 27th congressional district.

The video says Taddeo was “spotted huddling with the Miami chapter of a socialist group that supports the Cuban communist regime” and “joined them to rally for socialist-style spending that could bankrupt the country.”

It was the same tactic that led to Salazar’s election in 2020, when she unseated the 27th District’s Democratic congresswoman, Donna Shalala. She branded Shalala as falsely and toxically a “socialist” in the mold of all the left-wing Latin American dictators so many Latinos in South Florida have fled. She ran ad after ad claiming it and hurled that same bogus epithet at the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement and claimed Shalala, Joe Biden and the Democrats get their orders from its leaders. The move won in 2020 and it has won again in 2022—bigger for sure. 

The question is—are Democrats even listening or are they too busy playing the nice guys and patting themselves on the back for not losing as badly as they thought? A loss is a loss regardless of the margin. Time to wake up as voters of color are defecting on lies!

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.

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