While it's normal for political candidates to pander to today's registered voters, they undermine the long-term electoral prospects of their party when they fail to recognize Florida's changing demographics. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that increasing numbers of Florida's children are non-Cuban Latinos. Overall, Latinos make up 26% of persons under age 18.
More striking, however, Florida's long association with Cuban immigration's that the Cuban-origin portion of the Latino population is shrinking when you look at the youngest Floridians.
While Cubans are a majority of Florida Latinos over age 70, every Latino age group below 70 is becoming increasingly non-Cuban. Cubans are more than half (54%) of Florida Latinos aged 65 and over, but they are only 22% of Latino children in the state. Simply put, the Cuban population is getting older while a younger, non-Cuban Latino population continues to grow.
In fact, Cubans today are a minority of all Florida Latinos. The state's Latino population is one of the most diverse in the nation: 29% Cuban, 20% Puerto Rican, 17% South American, 15% Mexican, 11% Central American, and 9% of other Latino origins.
Candidates and the party they represent are focusing on elections in Florida, not the future electorate. In doing so they are risking the long-term success of their party. The increasingly diverse Latino community in Florida is only going to be receptive to rhetoric and immigration policies that benefit all Latinos.
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