President Barack Obama won a historic share of the Cuban-American vote in Florida, loosening the Republican Party’s grip on a traditional base of support in the biggest swing state, according to a Miami-based polling firm, Bendixen & Amandi International.
Obama won 48 percent of the Cuban-American vote on Nov. 6, compared with 52 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, pollster Fernand Amandi told reporters in Miami today.
About 45 percent of Cuban-Americans born on the Caribbean island -- traditionally Republican -- backed Obama, his polling found. Overall, the president won 61 percent of Florida’s Hispanic voters, about 17 percent of the state’s electorate.
“This is dramatically different from what we’ve seen in cycles past,” Amandi said.
The poll of 4,866 voters in six south Florida counties has a possible margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points. Bendixen & Amandi, which specializes in surveying the Hispanic community and previously worked for the Obama campaign, said it produced this poll independently.
Statewide, Obama was leading Romney by 0.6 percentage points among all voters, as the state remained uncalled with absentee ballots still being counted in Broward, Palm Beach and Duval counties, according to Chris Cate, spokesman for the Florida State Department.
In the wake of Romney’s national defeat, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of South Florida and Senator Marco Rubio, both Republicans, said their party needs to do more to attract minorities and immigrants.
“The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them,” Rubio said in a statement today.
Republicans are losing support among Florida’s Cuban community as younger voters turn toward the Democratic Party and the percentage of the electorate made up of older Cuban-American immigrants shrinks, the poll showed. The trend is found in other Hispanic communities as well, including among Nicaraguans, Puerto Ricans and Venezuelans.
“Historically, Nicaraguans have been regarded as the ideological brothers and sisters of the Cubans,” said Sergio Bendixen, the company’s president. About 74 percent of Nicaraguan-Americans backed Obama this year while 76 percent of Venezuelan-Americans did, according to the poll.
Both Bendixen and Amandi said they predict Florida Hispanics will be majority Democratic by the 2016 presidential race, though Bendixen said a run by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is popular among Hispanics, could reverse the trend.