I have lived in Miami since 1992 and for nearly that entire time the Cuban exile community, as it is called down here, has been monolithic in its loyalty to the Republican Party and a force to be reckoned with for anyone wanting to hold elected office. All any Republican politician, whether running for U.S. Senate, Congress, mayor or dogcatcher, had to do was have a last name that ended with a vowel an S or a Z, show up and drop a couple of anti-Castro comments, promise to maintain the embargo until that Communist sumbitch was dead, and collect the solid Cuban vote wrapped up in a corn meal tamale.
I recall clearly a campaign stop then Sen. Barack Obama made in Miami at the ancient and rather small and dingy Miami Auditorium in late 2007. Although Obama was still pretty much a cipher to most Americans, he was considered enough of a threat to merit an official Cuban demonstration across the street from the venue, complete with waving fists, angry chants and grammatically innovative signs. It was almost as if they sensed that Obama was going to open up Cuba, lo, these eight years later, which was at the time anathema to the Miami Cuban bloc.
But with the arrival in Havana yesterday of the first U.S. cruise ship in almost 50 years and with Donald Trump seemingly intent on shredding the GOP, it appears it’s the end of an era, or “error,” as the wags like it. Indeed a Miami Herald article today sports this headline: Will Donald Trump drive Miami Cuban Americans from GOP? New poll says yes.
Local Cuban Americans dislike Trump so much — and are increasingly so accepting of renewed U.S.-Cuba ties pushed by Democratic President Barack Obama — that Trump’s likely presidential nomination might accentuate the voters’ political shift away from the GOP, according to the survey shared with the Miami Herald and conducted by Dario Moreno, a Coral Gables pollster and a Florida International University associate politics professor.