Exit polls are not reliable, but they give us a general idea of the landscape. Data from major networks and AP VoteCast show that national Latino support for Democrats is down about 9 points this year compared to 25. In Florida, GOP progress was notable: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis became the first Republican gubernatorial nominee in decades to win Miami-Dade County, which is majority Latino. To dismiss these outcomes as an inevitable consequence of the trauma of communism suffered by Cuban Americans is to belittle the stories of people like Maxwell Frost, the 25 Afro-Cuban, 20, won Florida’s 25TH congressional district. Frost is an example not just of what a new generation of Cuban-Americans looks like, but of the potential for Democrats to invest in candidates who can dispel the unfounded fears surrounding communism with genuine hope. To dismiss DeSantis’ gains as predictable is to obliterate history.
In the Rio Grande Valley, an enclave of the country’s most tireless progressive organizers — a traditional Democratic stronghold and a Latino-majority district — the Republican Party People also try to challenge history, with more less success. Latino Republican congresswoman Mayra Flores’ loss in District 25 dealt a major blow to the GOP, but maybe It also provides a clearer road map for the future, which, as Flores said, was the best Republican performance in the district in more than a decade. Nearby, Trump-backed Monica De La Cruz won in a district that was re-districted this year in favor of Republicans. The threat to Democrats in South Texas isn’t necessarily a small Republican invasion, but a Republican determination to see potential that was once unimaginable. Sometimes it’s what the eyes can’t see that presents the greatest opportunity.
The story of the Latino vote is a cautionary tale, warning us that the future is more unpredictable than we expect. In fact, we’re in that future right now – both parties sending record numbers of Latinos to Congress, people like Frost and de la Cruz made history while
both both saw a form on the horizon victory.
I spoke with supporters of Sen. Cortez Masto in Las Vegas before Election Day. As she’s done for years, she’s helping to mobilize her community in support of the Democratic candidate — though this time around, I’ve noticed that she seems somewhat demoralized. “We show up all the time, but they still haven’t delivered the migrants,” she told me. Imagine if the Democrats actually followed through on that promise. Imagine if they paved the way. Then maybe, just maybe, the Democrats could win by more than 1% — a result that would be enough for them to declare a resounding victory.