Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Kerry, Si?

John Kerry is making a dent in one of the staunchest Republican strongholds in the country – the Cuban-American community in Miami.

Democrat John Kerry enjoys a commanding lead over President Bush among Cuban Americans born in the United States and a decided edge among Cubans who arrived in the country after 1980, according to a new poll of Miami-Dade Hispanics that reveals deep divisions within a community traditionally viewed as staunchly Republican.

The poll, commissioned by a Democratic group that is targeting Hispanic voters, shows Kerry with a 58-32 percent advantage among Cubans born in the United States, suggesting that the Massachusetts senator has an opportunity to siphon potentially critical support from Bush.

But the poll, to be released today, shows Bush crushing Kerry among the largest — and perhaps most politically active and vocal — group of Cuban-American voters: those who arrived before the 1980 Mariel boatlift. Those voters — who make up about two-thirds of all Cuban-American registered voters in Miami-Dade, according to the survey — back the Republican incumbent overwhelmingly, 89 to 8 percent, with just 3 percent undecided.

Among all Cuban-American voters, Bush leads Kerry 69 to 21 percent, with 10 percent undecided — a massive lead, but a decline from 2000 when more than eight of 10 Cuban Americans helped Bush narrowly defeat Al Gore in Florida and win the White House.

Kerry leads Bush 40 to 29 percent among Cubans who arrived in the United States after 1980, with 31 percent undecided.

Among all Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade, Bush leads Kerry 60 to 29 percent, with 11 percent undecided.


“This isn’t enough in any way to lead one to imagine we’ll win the Hispanic vote, but there’s definitely an opportunity to put a dent in the Republican column,” said Democratic pollster Sergio Bendixen, who is consulting for the Washington, D.C.-based group and conducted the survey. “For the first time in a generation, people are actually talking about which way they may go.” [Miami Herald]

As it stands, Florida is still too close to call in the overall polling. The conventional wisdom is that since Bush “won” Florida by 537 votes in 2000, any cracks in the Cuban Republican wall could make the difference.