Kamala Harris’ connection to Caribbean voters could make difference in Florida

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Averi Harper (ABC News) writes that “Playing up her Jamaican heritage is huge part of the Biden campaign’s outreach.”

When Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., took part in an interview on a South Florida radio show called “Caribbean Riddims,” she sprinkled the Jamaican phrase “ya mon” throughout the interview with a heavy hand. She told the host Marlon Hill her favorite Jamaican meal was “oxtail stew,” a staple in many Caribbean households and claimed that scotch bonnet peppers, which give much of Jamaican food its spice, was the most important ingredient in her kitchen.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants and playing up her Jamaican heritage is a huge part of the Biden-Harris campaign’s outreach to Afro-Caribbean voters in the Sunshine State.

“There’s such enthusiasm, there’s such love and passion for her and such pride that it just is an easy way to just kind of invigorate the base, give them something to look forward to,” Karen Andre, senior adviser to the Biden-Harris campaign in Florida, told ABC News. “So it’s absolutely essential.”

The voting bloc is significant in Florida, especially in South Florida and along the critical I-4 corridor, a bellwether in this battleground state. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 41% of the nation’s 4.4 million Caribbean immigrants live in Florida, and Miami-Dade County has the highest number of Caribbean immigrants in the U.S. with 862,000 Caribbean immigrants calling it home. If the campaign’s outreach to this community is successful, it could help turn the state into an electoral victory for Biden and Harris.

In 2016, the Trump campaign attempted to make inroads in the Haitian community. Then-candidate Donald Trump visited Miami’s Little Haiti and promised to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for what he described as her failures to help the island nation in the aftermath of the deadly 2010 earthquake. According to a University of Florida study, Trump garnered the votes of nearly 20% Haitian-Americans in select Palm Beach and Broward County precincts. [. . .]

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