It may or may not be a stretch to call it "the Latino primary," as some have called it, but there's no question that Florida's sizeable and evolving Latino electorate will play a big role in determining whether Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (the likely winner) or Newt Gingrich wins today's primary election in the Sunshine State.
As they and the other GOP candidates have spent the past two weeks wooing Florida's Latinos, a good part of the media discussion has revolved around immigration and how much it matters to Latino voters, and whether the harsh rhetoric seen earlier in the campaign could cost the party in November. There are broader questions, such as whether Florida's changing Latino voter profile will once again favor President Obama, who has been struggling with Latinos, or the GOP, which is struggling even more. Nationwide, even as Obama's Latino approval ratings slip, does a Republican candidate stand a chance with Latino voters in the fall?
Here's a five-item reading (and listening) list as the election results come in:
In Florida, a changing Latino mosaic reshapes politics This has been an undercurrent of the Florida coverage lately, including in a post last week on Multi-American, but this Chicago Tribune piece illustrates the demographic changes well. In a nutshell, appealing to conservative Cuban American anti-Castro hardliners (as both Romney and Gingrich tried to do last week) doesn't work as well as it used to, with younger Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, South American and Mexican immigrants now making up a growing part of Florida's Latino electorate.
Why Florida's Latino Republicans tilt toward Mitt Romney The Christian Science Monitor explores reasons why Romney, who hasn't exactly won over Latino fans for his strict position on immigration, is leading in Florida anyway. According to the story, his private-sector career could be appealing to "entrepreneurial-minded Hispanics."
Immigration rattles the Republicans Immigration is not the be-all issue for Latino voters, as Romney's ratings in Florida show. But then again, he's only competing against fellow Republicans. The party as a whole had had trouble attracting Latino voters, with the tough immigration rhetoric that appeals to some GOP faithful alienating swing voters and even some conservative Latinos. This Salon piece delves into the quandary the candidates have found themselves in, something that could hurt the party in the long run.
Hardliners and Swing Voters: Florida's Fractures Latino Voters Is immigration as big of an issue among Florida's Latino voters, including Cubans (who usually get to stay if they make it to U.S. soil illegally) and Puerto Ricans (who get automatic U.S. citizenship)? It depends on who you talk to. This piece from WNYC breaks down the GOP's Latino problems in and beyond Florida.
The GOP's fight for Latino voters in Florida What lessons can be learned from the way the Republican candidates have attempted to woo Florida's Latino voters? And if immigration isn't going to win Latino votes for the party nominee in November, what, if anything, might? Republican political analyst Hector Barajas and Democratic strategist Roger Salazar shared their insights in this segment last week on KPCC's AirTalk.
And rest assured, there will be plenty more to read about all this tomorrow.