José de Córdoba and Arian Campo-Flores (Wall Street Journal) say that, like the Cubans before them, Venezuelan exiles are transforming Florida politics. They report that both U.S. parties are hustling to recruit a flood of new voters [Venezuelans] in a crucial state for presidential elections. It is interesting that the influx of both Venezuelans and Puerto Ricans in Florida has been causing much concern in terms of voting trends. The article underlines that “tens of thousands of Venezuelans could tip the political balance in this crucial swing state”—I would not assume too much on which way they would “swing.” As a friend pondered today, “would they trade one populist government for another?”
One August day, hundreds of Venezuelans packed the pews at a local church to hear Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Marco Rubio preach against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and pledge to help restore democracy in the oil-rich nation.
“We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” said Mr. Pence. “Libertad! Libertad!” many in the crowd shouted, waving tricolor Venezuelan yellow, blue and red flags, and giving the Republican officials standing ovations. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans, pushed by a failed economy and repression back home, are finding their way to South Florida. Their growing numbers and Venezuela’s dramatic implosion could tip the political balance in this crucial swing state, where presidential elections are decided by the thinnest of margins.
[Photo above: Doral city council candidate Rafael Pineyro, right, looks for votes at a Venezuelan restaurant.]