David Rieff has a long piece in tomorrow's NYT magazine about Cuban-American politics in Miami, provocatively titled, Will Little Havana Go Blue?.
The main conclusions track what those of us who live here see around us: Cuban-American politics are being changed by a generational shift (a rising generation that is American first and treats its hyphen much they way other ethnic groups do), and a political differences between recent immigrants and the revanchists who have been here 40-50 years. The recent escapees are much less willing to support policies that prevent them sending money to relatives left behind, and which limit their ability to visit their families still trapped in Cuba.
The result is a breakage of the monolithic support for the GOP and for its candidates. Particularly hurt are the Diaz-Balart brothers, who suffer from poor constituent services and a failure to bring home the kind of bacon that their storied predecessors — Claude Pepper, Dante Fascell — did.
Although Rieff doesn't address this directly, it turns out that Joe Garcia's vicious mockery of the Diaz-Balarts as a “one trick pony” may be right on the mark.
Rieff's piece contains another bit of wisdom. Miami's shift to normal politics away from unthinking equation of the GOP as the natural home for Cuban-Americans does not mean automatic victory for Democrats.
The lesson for local campaigners is obvious: Cuban-Americans being up for grabs means that they will need to be addressed in the same way as other swing constituencies: with appeals on the issues they care about (housing, jobs, health, social security, as well as Cuba) and — and this is probably key — turnout will rule. The community is no longer monolithic. Just like with many other communities that means whoever gets out their voters will win.
It's going to be a turnout election down here.