Overlooked in the avalanche of data from exit polls of the 2010 election in Florida: The Republican party -- which lost the Hispanic vote in 2008 -- got it back in 2010.
Republican Marco Rubio, who is Cuban-American, got 55 percent of the Hispanic vote in the U.S. Senate race, compared to no-party Charlie Crist with 23 percent and Democrat Kendrick Meek with 21 percent. Republican Rick Scott got 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in the governor's race, while Democrat Alex Sink got 48 percent.
Note that both Rubio and Scott dismissed as "amnesty" the 2006 legislation in Congress that would have allowed undocumented workers to earn citizenship. Rubio came out against the so-called "Dream Act,'' which would allow their kids to become citizens if they attend college or serve in the military, while Scott vowed to bring an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration to Florida.
"No one can say that someone's position on immigration will cost them the Hispanic vote in Florida,'' said Carlos Curbelo, state director for Sen. George LeMieux and a supporter of the 2006 immigration reform. "Immigration is not a core issue for Florida Hispanics."
In fact, Rubio and Scott improved upon the GOP's appeal among Hispanics in recent elections. President Barack Obama won about 57 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008. As a Republican, Crist split the Hispanic vote with Democrat Jim Davis in the 2006 governor's race.
Look for the GOP to try to build on its Hispanic appeal in Florida in 2012, when the fastest growing minority group will help decide whether or not Obama gets a second term. Hispanic Democrats currently outnumber Hispanic Republicans by more than 100,000 voters.