Little Havana
Once a Democratic stronghold, Miami-Dade County is seeing an ideological shift. But despite party affiliation, voters think the economy and immigration remain top two issues. Saul MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP

As several studies in the past months reveal the Latino electorate is leaning toward a more conservative side ahead of the 2024 elections, battleground counties across the country are also seeing a shift in perception, a move that could potentially determine the results of this year's contest.

One of those counties is Miami-Dade, in Florida. Once considered a Democratic Stronghold, its electorate, most of which identifies as Hispanic or Latino, has become active battleground territory for the Biden vs. Trump rematch, NBC News reports.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County by 29 points. Meanwhile in 2020, Joe Biden carried the county by just 7 points. But in the 2022 midterms, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis emerged victorious by the largest margin of any GOP governor in decades, all three of its congressional seats stayed red, and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Val Demmings, his Democratic challenger, by 16 points.

But where are voters thinking in the county and what issues matter to them ahead of the 2024 elections?

MSNBC and NBC News anchor Jose Diaz-Balart recently sat down with a diverse group of four prospective voters at the historic Ball & Chain Restaurant in Little Havana, Miami, to get a sense of what themes may rise in salience across the political spectrum.

One of the top two issues in the county, per the respondents, is the economy.

Kelli Thomas is a resident of Miami-Dade County. She was registered as a Democrat, but later switched to "no party affiliation." She explains that she recently had to move back in with her parents due to rising costs of living instead of "moving forward and being an independent adult."

"I would like to see the candidates and whoever gets in office in November to at least address affordability and housing because I'm not really seeing that right now," Thomas says.

Similarly, Santra Denis, a lifelong Democrat and the daughter of Haitian immigrants, says that her main concern is about affordability in the future.

"What matters to me as a millennial is to have the climate of an economy that allows me to have a savings, that allows me to think about retirement," Dennis said.

Immigration is the second. Just like the rest of the country, as several studies have shown, Miami-Dade is worried about the future of immigration. But possible solutions vary distinctly across the political spectrum.

Isabella Rodriguez is the daughter of Cuban exiles. She used to be a Democrat, but eventually switched affiliations to the GOP and now fully supports Donald Trump.

"I agree with the wall, I think it makes sense," Rodriguez said. "I think you keep your doors locked at night to keep your house safe. And I think that we need to have some kind of measure to keep our borders safe as well."

On the other hand, Alfonso Treto, who used to be a Republican, is now a public school teacher who leans to the left and supports Democrats. His parents immigrated from Mexico.

"I see immigration as an opportunity. But I understand that you can't allow everybody in because there's a process," He said. "There's a term that I really don't like that's 'get in line, because there's been people that are waiting,' but for some people there isn't really a line."

But while the interviewees reported a discontent with both parties, the county could still go blue, if Biden is able to effectively communicate to the electorate that his priorities remain with issues affecting working class people such as abortion, student loans, cost of living and immigration, Tim Miller, Former Communications Director during Jeb Bush's 2016 Presidential Campaign, said.

"Joe Biden needs to be able to create a contrast between those voters that he actually cares about their concerns and he is trying to address them and Donald Trump doesn't," Miller said.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.