Monday, November 20, 2006

Shifting Hispanic Population in FL a Challenge for GOP

The St. Pete Times, on Sunday, reported on the problems that FL Hispanics presented for Republicans in this year's election. Historically, Florida's Hispanic population was largely Cuban. A shift has taken place of the last several years, with many non-Cuban Hispanics moving into the state. From Puerto Ricans in Orlando, to Central and South Americans in South Florida, to Mexicans throughout the state, the complexion of the Hispanic population in Florida has become far more diverse.

Does this mean that the level of support that Republicans have traditionally enjoyed in the state will decrease permanently? The answer is, not necessarily. What's needed is a complete re-evaluation of the Hispanic population by the Republican Party.

While many conservative bloggers (here) have expressed dismay over the selection of Mel Martinez to lead the RNC, perhaps this an area where Martinez can leave his mark. As a Cuban-American from the Orlando area, Martinez should appeal to Cubans nationwide and to the sizable Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. This will not be easy - immigration will be a major challenge - but the GOP cannot afford to abandon Florida's Hispanics and forfeit these (each is separate) huge voting blocs.

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