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Nancy Smith

Hispanic Support for Bill Nelson Is Slipping Away

July 7, 2018 - 6:00am

If Bill Nelson didn't know he was in trouble before, he did when his campaign added up the depressing figures coming to light involving Hispanic voter preferences. Especially those reported this week in the National Journal.  

It's grim news for Florida's senior senator, already trying to play catch-up in the race to hold his seat against a surging Gov. Rick Scott.

The National Journal writes that Democrats in key races around the country are underperforming with Hispanics -- and nowhere is that more noticeable, or more important, than right here in Florida.

In this perennial battleground state, the Nelson-Scott race is Florida's marquee event. It's on the national stage. At the moment, certainly, it looks like Scott's standing with Hispanic voters is keeping him competitive despite the difficult political environment for Republicans.

Democrats were banking on President Trump's unpopularity among Hispanics to carry the day for Nelson.

But, as the Journal's story points out, two recently-released polls show Scott, a longtime Trump ally, tallying noticeably higher popularity scores than the president in Florida. One poll, conducted by CBS News, shows Nelson only leading by one point among Hispanics (37-36 percent) while an NBC/Marist survey (taken June 17-June 21) showed Nelson with a 10-point lead (52-42 percent) with the demographic. Either outcome shows Scott significantly outperforming Trump, who lost the Hispanic vote in Florida by a whopping 27 points in 2016 (and still carried the state).

Let's look further: A Florida International University survey of Puerto Ricans in Florida -- typically a Democratic-leaning demographic -- found that 55 percent held a positive view of Scott, with 57 percent holding a positive view of Nelson. 

Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson

Democrats had been optimistic that a wave of these new voters in the wake of Hurricane Maria would give them an advantage for the midterms. But, as a number of Puerto Rican officials pointed out at last week's RPOF Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Scott’s frequent travel to the island and his campaign’s aggressive Spanish-language television advertising, and good things he's done for the island, have kept them in play.

State Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, summarized some of those "good things" during the Summit, including opening Florida schools to automatic student transfers from Puerto Rico, making the state a staging center for relief aid, opening welcome centers at the Miami and Orlando airports, and "welcoming people with open arms.”

Cortes said that led to close partnerships between Scott’s administration and Puerto Rico officials. And as a result, the two governments, he said, have “formed a bond that is inseparable. We work together for the good of both Puerto Rico and Florida.”

Down in South Florida, one of the few Republicans to represent a majority-Hispanic district is also showing his resilience. In a recent Democratic survey conducted in his district, Carlos Curbelo produced a solid 42-27 favorability score, with 48 percent of voters approving of Trump’s job performance. While 48 percent is hardly overwhelming, Clinton won this district by 16 points. So, if anything, these results suggest Trump has gained ground with the district’s substantial Cuban-American community since becoming president -- something that dashes the Democrats' strategy.

And, the Journal story comes after a Politico article slammed Bill Nelson’s non-existent outreach to Florida’s Hispanic communities.

No doubt Nelson has noticed: Time runs out fast when every day you wake up and you're further behind.

Taryn Fenske, Florida communications director for the Republican National Committee, contributed to this commentary. Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


Given his years of service in Congress, Nelson will receive 80% of his current $174,000 Senate salary as his pension ... $139,200. At 76 years old ... he likely won't care much if he loses to Scott ... and he'll undoubtedly enjoy his $139,200 pension benefit and all the other perks that go with it.

nice try...sounds good though, doesn't it?

Democrats PLEASE #WalkAway Save the state. Save the country.

Thank you for the article Nancy. I always enjoy reading your perspective even if I don't agree with it. In this case, I do not agree with the conclusion that Hispanic voters are slipping away from Nelson and the Democrats, not just because I want Nelson to win, but because I think we do not have enough data yet on anything. In fact some of the date you cited is already old (like the poll of Puerto Ricans done in May) as we had a major happening, which was Bill Nelson being kept out of the detention center in the Miami area. The aftermath was all over Spanish media across Florida. You saw Nelson's google traffic skyrocket past Scott at that point. If anything, analysis of the polling overall and voting trends are ones that favor democrats. We have some evidence in recent special elections in Florida, including in Miami-Dade County, we see Democrats doing much better, especially among Spanish voters. I think the national environment pushes them into Nelson's column. If they are angry at President Trump and wanting to send a message, by October they won't be voting for Scott. Especially with ads tying Scott to Trump, which I can promise you will be done by Nelson and the outside groups. My own sense is that Nelson is likely ahead because of the national environment that favors democrats, although either could win.

When to Democrat party divides in two (Communists vs Leftists) as it is presently, NOBODY is safe! Only the delusional see this blatant divide... need to stick with Trump.

Under the Democrats Hispanics will never be anything more than welfare dependent second class fruit pickers. By backing Trump, Scott, and other real American loving political leaders Hispanics future for themselves and their beloved children is unlimited. It's really no more complicated than that. And foolish leftists still think Hispanics and other minorities "got their back". Sorry leftists those days are long gone. If Martin Luther King, Harriett Tubman, and George Washington Carver were alive today they would be on board with President Trump too. #goodbyebluewave

yea good luck with that dumbass... In case you've been sleeping, or dead as in your case... under the last 40 yrs. of predominantly Republican control, wages have risen the slowest amount in history (in fact almost completely regressed once you factor inflation in), and the income differential has grown by the largest margin since the industrial revolution. Your unlimited income earning potential, pipe dream has been quashed by good ol' hard facts, something that is not very appealing in politics these days...

Liberals want to argue about wages for nonexistent jobs they have created. That's really funny. The liberal plan is to have everyone on welfare because they can't find jobs.

Let me say, it is not that easy to get Welfare any longer. But we subsidized Walmart when they only hire part-timers and full- timers with Wages that no one can live off. This is where welfare and/or Foodstamps will have to help the workers because of the limited income. I personally see Welfare as a form of oppression... By the way, that tax break that Walmart enjoyed which they claim aloud the raise of $1.00 to their employees, was offset when they closed 63 Sam's leaving hundred of people unemployed. Thathe tax break really had nothing to due with their decision businesses make these decisions months in advance not just in one month after the big tax benefits they received. Yes, Trump, scott, and the rest of Republicans are Real Americans. That's why Puerto Rico is being treated as Second Class Citizens. Scott eliminated the Sinkhole from homeowner policies. You now have to quality for it and pay additional if you do quality. Scott, quietly past a law for homeowners that live on the beach that allows them to closed off that portion to the public. We need to open our eyes. Scott in particular and Republicans in general are looking out for the business voters. Their money for their for their party mostly Republican Party to run and by doing so buy the party. And since they voted in a law that Corporations are people too, well these Corporations can put out as much as they want.. Now, look up Scott and Medicare Fraud. And the way he as acted in this past year was only done to look good. Rear everything he has done in his first 3 1/2 years. He has passed terrible laws. Please, don't be fooled. This primery elections are critical... we must vote Democrats! And we need to vote for the Democrat that stands to win otherwise we split our votes aND a Republican could win. Please unite in these importance elections. The House-Senate and and Congress need to be a mix of Democrats and Republicans to have checks and balances. When you have a majority of one or the other and add the President of that majority there is no check and balance. Look a what the Republicans with House and Congress did to President Obama. The said in public that they will not work with him. I have never heard that done before. Being Black played an important part. Listen, we need to have a seat at the table to win. Thank you.

Puerto Ricans don't like Trump. Scott was a leader in Trump's campaign. When they figure it out, Abuelo will be OK.

Just to be clear to OJ (Ocean Joe) and others who write for, leave comments, or are just lurkers here at Sunshine State News - its BOTH the Rino establishment Republicans AND the Democrats/Socialists that will never voluntarily allow Hispanics to be anything more than welfare dependent second class fruit pickers. Rino establishment Republicans AND the Democrats/Socialists NEED a perpetual under class to trade welfare benefits for votes or they will never again hold power in our Great Nation. So now that the Hispanics and Blacks see Trump as their path to financial independence we can expect OJ and the other Rino establishment Republicans along with the Democrats/Socialists to attempt to import radical Jihadists in the same way the failed country of Germany and much of Europe has done. Logically there is no where else to turn for the Rino establishment Republicans AND the Democrats/Socialists to have a perpetual under class to lord and rule over. MAGA

seems like Claude's ghost is smoking the medical pot again...

Please do not treat us like we are stupid. What we have "figured out" is that Florida's governor has our back. He is a doer, Abuelo is a talker.

Well stated Carlos.

Don't treat Puerto Ricans like you're stupid? Should we not treat coffee like it's hot?

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith
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