While many swing states still hang in the balance, it’s Florida that has shifted decisively to Donald Trump. As I hinted on Monday, it was Trump’s surge among the Latino vote in Miami that delivered him the state. The margins are quite astonishing – while Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county, saw a Clinton win of 30 points in 2016, Biden has clung on by just 7 points. In heavily Cuban precincts, the President snagged over 80 per cent of the vote, up from around 55 per cent last time. Indeed, despite Trump’s big win in the Sunshine State (and three points is big for Florida), non-Latino voters actually swung away from him: Duval County, home to Jacksonville, flipped to the Democrats for the first time since 1976.
It’s not just in Florida where Joe Biden has lagged with Latino voters. The Rio Grande Valley in the South of Texas, home to large numbers of Mexican Americans, saw a big swing against the Democrat. In Hidalgo County, also in Texas, the Democrats’ lead was cut from 40 points to just 17. Here, the Democrats have roughly the same number of votes as four years ago, while the Republican vote has doubled, suggesting the Trump campaign has managed to engage Latinos who don’t usually vote. In a similar pattern to Florida, these gains insulated Trump from losses elsewhere. In Tarrant County, which covers the affluent and traditionally conservative Fort Worth, Trump’s lead was cut from nine to less than one point.
In Arizona, it is the sprawling city of Phoenix in majority-white Maricopa County which appears to have delivered the state for Joe Biden – this is only the second win there for a Democrat since 1948. At the same time, Trump appears to be extending his margin in the majority Latino Yuma County. It’s just that there are more votes in the former area than the latter.
The Republican strategy of reaching out to Latino voters – and men in particular –painting Democrats as socialists and Republicans as a no-nonsense party of free enterprise and machismo, has clearly paid dividends beyond their wildest expectations.
It is interesting to note that in Georgia, a Southern state where Latinos make up a far smaller proportion of the population, the result appears to be going down to the wire, with a big swing towards the Democrats. There, we can see the effect of demographic change, as the suburbs of the growing metropolis of Atlanta shift left. Cobb County, which once sent Newt Gingrich to Congress, was won by Hillary Clinton by 2 points in 2016. Biden has extended that lead to 13 points. Whether Biden wins in Georgia or not, the fact that the state is now voting to the left of Florida shows how much the Democratic electorate has changed.
The 2016 election saw the Republicans finally realign the white-working class in the Midwest – who had been moving towards the party for a generation. This election has seen many Latino voters – often themselves working class – move at breakneck pace over to the Republicans. Like those in the Rust Belt, these are voters many Democrats have taken for granted for years. Whether or not Biden eventually prevails, these voters will be a key target for the Democrats to win back.