Obama's making a play in Florida

Especially in the Cuban community. And if the polls are accurate, he may be ahead of the curve.

Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade County, regarded for years as a solidly Republican catch for statewide and national candidates stumping in Florida, are increasingly becoming free agents.

Less than half of the county's Hispanic voters are registered Republicans, down from 59 percent less than a decade ago, The Miami Herald found. Like newer voters elsewhere in the state and the nation, more Hispanic voters are rebuffing political parties: One out of four in Miami-Dade are registered as nonpartisan. In Broward County, one in three Hispanic registered voters are unaffiliated with either party.

"It's a trend that I've seen happening, and obviously it concerns me," said Jose "Pepe" Riesco, vice chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party. "It's a problem we can't run away from."

Those independent voters tend to be younger Cuban Americans or naturalized citizens from Central America and South America, many of whom worry more about securing healthcare than toppling Fidel Castro, according to more than two dozen interviews with voters and Hispanic leaders.
Emphasis mine.

I seem to recall that the move toward independent affiliation is happening across the board, especially among younger people, but that the net result is that, at least in 2006, these people voted far more Democratic than Republican. It's part of the liberalizing of America's youth that's been taking place over the last 10-15 years.

So what's Obama's play? Ease the Cuba embargo and travel restrictions.
Obama’s campaign said Monday that, if elected, the Illinois senator would lift restrictions imposed by the Bush administration and allow Cuban-Americans to visit their relatives more frequently, as well as ease limits on the amount of money they can send to their families.

“Senator Obama feels that the Bush administration has made a humanitarian and a strategic blunder,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an e-mail. “His concern is that this has had a profoundly negative impact on the Cuban people, making them more dependent on the Castro regime, thus isolating them from the transformative message carried by Cuban-Americans.”
Right on.

Our Cuba policy has been crap for decades now--almost as long as we've had a policy concerning Castro--and that policy has been formulated by the older generation in Miami-Dade for far too long. I hope what we're seeing is a generational shift, where younger people who have less of a connection to Cuba itself, who don't have romantic notions of what the country was like pre-Castro, are able to have a more dominant voice in determining how we deal with Cuba now and into the future. Obama's message is one that says if we communicate with Cuba, we win, and it's a 180 degree turn from what our attitude has been for the last 45 years.

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