Caribbean-Americans Can Swing Florida Blue

David Mullings, CEO of the Florida-based, Blue Mahoe Capital

David Mullings, CEO of the Florida-based, Blue Mahoe Capital

by David Mullings

FLORIDA – In 2016, I wrote a blog post titled “8 Reasons The Florida Caribbean American Vote Matters in 2016” and much of it still rings true.

In fact, our vote matters even more because Florida is now even more important as the sitting President struggles in some traditionally Republican states, his unpopularity grows and people from so-called “sh*thole countries” witness the anti-immigrant sentiment and racism reach levels they have never seen.

Kamala Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother who spent a tremendous amount of time in Jamaica as a child, is the running mate for Former Vice President Joe Biden and this matters to many people of Jamaican heritage in the USA.

Few countries have a stop on a famous rail line named after their country but every single person who lands at JFK in New York and takes the train knows “Jamaica” if they never heard the name before, which would be surprising. However, Jamaicans are only part of the Caribbean-American population in the USA and many share the same concerns about immigration, education, healthcare costs and police reform.

Importance of the Census 

The 2020 Census is under way and the numbers should increase but back in 2016, there were approximately 4 million immigrants from the Caribbean and 58% of them were Naturalized US Citizens. 70% of those were eligible to vote and more are now eligible 4 years later.

A stunning 90% of these immigrants come from 5 countries: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago with Jamaicans having the highest naturalization rates at 66%.

Why is Florida special?

It is a swing state which is nicknamed the “1% state” due to the small number of voters who actually determine which party receives the Electoral College votes or wins the Governor race. 40% of all Caribbean immigrants live in Florida.

To put that in perspective, President Barack Obama won Florida in 2012 by a mere 73,189 votes. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater corridor alone has over 90,000 Caribbean immigrants. Orlando had over 110,000 in 2016 before the influx of Puerto Ricans after botched handling of the hurricane relief by the sitting President and South Florida has more than 1.1 million Caribbean immigrants.

In 2012, based on data from the US Census and the Migration Policy Institute, there were roughly 558,656 eligible voters that were Caribbean immigrants in Florida.

In 2016, the current President achieved a feat that was surprising, he crossed 4.5 million votes in Florida (for comparison, Mitt Romney secured 4,163,447 in 2012 to Barack Obama’s 4,237,756).

If voters are more energized than 2016 then Florida’s 29 electoral votes are in play and Caribbean-Americans could swing the state.

 

David Mullings was responsible for Caribbean-American Outreach in Miami-Dade during the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign.

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