Florida's crucial Hispanic voters remain wary of Romney
By Trip Gabriel
New York Times
Apr 28, 2012
KISSIMMEE, Fla. If Mitt Romney is to overcome his problem with Hispanic voters, he is going to have to start by changing a lot of minds in central Florida.
But whether Romney can make real inroads among Hispanic voters here and in swing states across the nation remains an open question. Though Cuban-Americans in south Florida favored the Republican candidate, John McCain, in 2008, Obama won 57 percent of Hispanic votes in the state thanks to Puerto Ricans and immigrants from Latin America.
Much of the fight will be waged in and around Orlando, a region where population growth led to the creation of a new congressional district for 2012 in which Hispanics, many of Puerto Rican heritage, are 41 percent of the voting-age population. And while they have increasingly become part of the home-owning class, getting them to register to vote and turn out at the polls is a challenge both parties face.
The wave of Puerto Rican migration here began in the 1970s; immigrants were attracted by good schools and houses sold to buyers still living in Puerto Rico, sometimes marketed with a trip to Disney World. The Republican economic message has had a natural resonance with some of these transplants. “I came to the United States during the Ronald Reagan years when I was 14,” said John Quinones, a lawyer, who is running as a Republican for Congress in the new 9th District. “I was very much influenced by his philosophy. If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead in life.”
Central Florida's Puerto Ricans want voices heard300,000 in Orlando area may be potent force in 2012 elections
Nearly one in five of those Puerto Ricans — more than 847,000 — live in Florida, up 75 percent in the past decade, according to census figures. The growth rate is even more rapid in Central Florida, where 300,000 now live.