Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tales from the Swamp 

Good news and bad news from Florida. Good first: our eminent colleague Barry Ritholtz of The Big Picture notes that President Bush is losing ground with Cuban-American voters in the Sunshine State:
Not in the sense that incumbent won’t garner a majority of Cuban votes cast in Florida; He is presently polling somewhere between 60-65% of Floridian Cuban Americans. But compare those number with the 82% of this voting bloc Bush won in the 2000 election.

A near 20% drop in support in a demographic representing 400,000 voters in a crucial state represents a swing of potentially 80,000 votes. That’s quite significant in a state the President won last time around by a mere 537 votes.

Why the sudden shift? I see two major reasons: First, years of GOP anti-Castro rhetoric have had an unintended impact in light of Iraq: When compared with U.S. foreign policy reality, Cuba has been mostly a non-issue for this administration -- an afterthought at best. One can easily understand why Cuban-Americans would be looking at the situation in the Middle-East, and then considering the problems with the one dictator in North America. They must be thinking: "Hey, wait just a second -- If we can spend treaure and blood invading Iraq, under what looks increasingly like false pretenses, then why cannot we invade Cuba and overthrow Castro?" . . . .

Secondly, the Bush Administration has implemented a “controversial new restriction on travel to Cuba” that particularly impact Cuban Americans in South Florida. While the goal may be laudable -- choking off the flow of funds to Castro’s regime -- the result is limiting contact and support between Cuban Americans living here, and their family back on the communist island. That's simply untenable to many newer Cuban refugees here.
Also, the Miami Herald reports that, according to a poll commissioned by a Democratic group,
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.
Now the bad news. Our old friends the Florida Republicans are at it again; they never stop; they just can't help themselves; and there is no angle so petty they won't try to work it:
Dario Cruz has lived in the United States for 16 years, but just became a citizen last week as he and about 200 other immigrants were naturalized.

One of the things he had always wanted to was register to vote, but when he was offered the chance to do that right outside the ceremony, he knew something wasn't right -- the place on the form where you're asked to choose Democrat, Republican or independent was already filled out.

"It's like one side," Cruz said. "You don't get to choose."

According to Cruz and his family, every form was checked off Republican.

It was something his wife, Linda Cross, first noticed. She said she asked what was going on, and was told the woman registering voters said they were with a Republican organization.

"These new citizens that were coming out and maybe did not know much of what was going on were all registering Republican," Cross said. "Not by choice, but by someone else's choice."

Clyde Collins, who runs the local Democratic Party, says this practice is not right, and as informed federal officials about the incident. They told him an investigation is underway.

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