Cuban-Americans’ Political Success
02/08/2012 1 comentario
It Has Nothing to Do With Ethnicity. Ted Cruz’s victory has folks talking about Cuban-American senatorial successes, including Mel Martinez, a Republican from Florida; Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey; and Marco Rubio, another Republican from Florida. But many factors are at play here: key supporters, being strategically placed in the right partisan context at the right time and the will to capitalize on these opportunities. Did their ethnicity contribute to their success? Being of Cuban origin helped Martinez in Florida. He lost among non-Latinos in 2004, but his 60% vote share among Latinos gave him an overall win by 1%. Being Latino likely helped Menendez in New Jersey with Puerto Rican voters, but Democrats had a party advantage in state politics at the time. For Cruz, and arguably for Rubio since he won 55% of the Latino and White votes, Tea Party politics was more important factor contributing to his electoral victory. While being Latino perhaps increased their appeal, it was not a decisive factor. Much of Martinez’s support came from Washington; he was endorsed early in his campaign by many prominent Republican groups and national figures. Menendez, the only Democrat among this group, was initially appointed in 2006 by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine to fill the remainder of his term and then won a six-year term later that year, when he benefited from the incumbency effect. Rubio was not only a Tea Party favorite, supported by G.O.P. heavyweights like Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann, Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, but he is also seen as a young Republican rising star, “G.O.P.’s Barack Obama.” Cruz, also backed by Tea Party, was endorsed by conservatives from Palin to Rick Santorum to Sean Hannity. This support, not his ethnicity, led to his success this week.