- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

About half of Cuban voters in Florida backed President-elect Donald Trump, perhaps in a backlash against President Obama’s detente with Communist dictator Raul Castro’s Cuba.

Fifty-four percent of Cubans supported Mr. Trump, compared to 41 percent support for Hillary Clinton, according to National Election Pool exit poll data. In Florida, Cubans were about twice as likely as non-Cuban Latinos to vote for Mr. Trump, the report shows.

The Miami Herald earlier this month predicted Cuban Americans — many of whom voted for Mr. Obama in previous elections — may switch their vote to Mr. Trump because of Mr. Obama’s Cuban policies.

“Obama’s Oct. 14 decision to further relax the U.S. embargo on Cuba by allowing American tourists to bring back unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars, as well as his Oct. 26 decision to abstain for the first time in a United Nations vote against the U.S. embargo on Cuba, have probably pushed many undecided Cuban Americans in Florida to vote for Trump,” Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer wrote on Nov. 2.

“In conversations with many Cuban Americans, I found that even among those who cautiously support Obama’s normalization with Cuba, many say he’s offering too many concessions to the island’s dictatorship without getting anything in return,” Mr. Oppenheimer wrote. “Resuming diplomatic relations was OK, they say, but why keep making unilateral gestures in the absence of any political opening on the island?”

Mr. Trump said he would “cancel Obama’s one-sided Cuban deal,” and promised anti-Castro Republicans in a late state push that he would keep the decades-long U.S. economic embargo on the island and close the recently reopened US embassy in Havana.

Two-thirds (67 percent) of the nation’s 1.2 million eligible Cuban voters live in Florida, with many living in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, Pew reports. As Puerto Ricans enter the state, the Cubans’ share of the Latino electorate is diminishing, and the National Survey of Latinos has found that Cuban registered voters have been shifting to the Democratic Party in recent decades.

Mr. Trump was able to stave off that shift, with the Cuban vote helping to give him the win in the Sunshine State.

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