Charlie Crist has a Cuba problem and a Cuban voter problem, a new Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll of Miami-Dade’s electorate shows.
Crist’s headline-grabbing announcement last month that he wants to travel to Cuba has hurt his standing more than it helped in Florida’s most-populous county, with only 5 percent of voters saying they’d be more likely to support him over the issue, while 24 percent say the opposite, according to the survey conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International.
A supermajority, 67 percent, say Crist’s Cuba position makes no difference in their vote between him and Gov. Rick Scott — and that’s despite the poll numbers showing voters by 51-40 percent say they favor Cuba travel for all residents of the United States.
Crist is the first major candidate for governor who has called for ending the Cuba travel ban and lifting the embargo, saying it hasn’t worked.
Overall, Crist leads Scott 47-35 percent. But that’s tepid support for Crist in the Democratic bastion.
“Charlie Crist is not where he needs to be if he wants a strong base vote coming out of Miami-Dade County and South Florida by extension,” said Fernand Amandi, who conducted the 400-voter poll for The Herald and El Nuevo Herald last week.
Crist’s 12 percentage-point advantage over Scott is about half the size of President Obama’s in 2012 and it’s about 2 points shy of Democrat Alex Sink’s margin in 2010 when she lost to Scott. Southeast Florida is crucial for Democrats, who need a big turnout to counteract Republican votes in Southwest and North Florida.
Weighing on Crist and boosting Scott: Miami-Dade Hispanic voters. Fifty percent back Scott; 31 percent support Crist. Cuban American voters, who accounted for more than half of Hispanics polled and dominate the county’s political power structure, back Scott over Crist 58-30 percent. Hispanics overall account for 55 percent of the county’s 1.3 million registered voters.
A Bendixen & Amandi exit poll in 2012 indicated Obama pulled 44 percent of Miami-Dade’s Cuban vote. Like Obama, Crist pulls outsized support form non-Hispanic whites and African-Americans.