Bachmann visits Florida to reel in support

After spending four days rallying supporters in six cities of the Sunshine State, Michele Bachmann arrived in Miami on Monday and toasted with supporters at Versailles Restaurant, a typical stop for GOP candidates. Tea cup in hand, Bachmann had her dose of cafésito in order to reel in Miami-Dade County’s stronghold of Republican voters and gain Cuban-American endorsement.
“We’re going to be all over Florida because Florida chooses presidents. You choose presidents,” Bachmann,  said to the crowd gathered Versailles Restaurant, in Little Havana, reported The Miami Herald.
According to the Herald, Cuban Americans make up more than 70 percent of Republicans in Miami-Dade County. Consequently, it is the largest Republican county in the state.
Despite Bachmann’s enthusiastic excursion through Florida, the Herald reported that a Mason-Dixon Research and Associates poll of Republican voters indicates that Bachmann is lagging in third place with just a 13 percent endorsement from Republican voters in Florida.
The other two Republicans in the primary elections, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas governor Rick Perry, lead the poll with 28 and 21 percent approval ratings, respectively.
Students closely following the Republican primary elections commented on Bachmann’s visits throughout Florida, particularly to Miami.
“Florida is an important primary state, with many delegates. It’s also an important swing state in the general election, and thus, the Republican National Convention is being held in Tampa in 2012,” said freshman Jordan Lewis.
Although the exact impact of Bachmann’s tour throughout Florida is still unknown, politically active students estimated her visit’s outcome.
“I think her visit will have a significant impact on the election,” said senior Vince Foster, who serves as SG’s Chief of Staff and is the Past-College Republican Chair. “That’s the whole point of a tour. You meet possible constituents, you get your name and face out there, you engage in face-to-face conversations, and, most importantly, you meet with the community and organizational leaders and/or elected officials to get their support as well.”
Her opponents, however, do not think she will advance far in the primaries.
“I can’t see Bachmann coming back in the polls and winning the Florida primary. She’s behind both Romney and Perry in both Florida and nationwide,” said Lewis, who also serves as the publicity chair for UM’s Young and College Democrats.
Bachmann’s visit to Miami included stops at the Bay of Pigs museum, a private meeting with former Florida governor Jeb Bush and a radio interview with WAQI-AM (710), commonly known as Radio Mambí.
But just how important is the Republican vote in Miami-Dade County? And, better yet, is her visit even meaningful to the polls?
In 2004, 68.5 percent of Cuban Americans identified themselves as Republicans.
Two years later, in 2006, after Fidel Castro fell ill and his brother Raul took power, the media speculated Cuban Americans would vote across their traditional GOP lines.
Although the number of Cuban-American Republicans dropped to 63.9 percent during the 2008 presidential elections, the drop did not significantly affect the demographic’s traditional voting trend.
Sophomore Regla Alfonso, who was born in Cuba and came to Miami at the age of four, doesn’t think Cuban-American Republicans will affect Florida’s poll rates.
“I think she’s a good politician and knows how to get to people in Miami. I don’t think this time around it’s going to help her go higher in the polls,” Alfonso said. “I think the Cuban people have seen all these candidates come by and make promises to them, so this time they’ll see she just wants their votes.”
A study released in 2008 by the University of California, Riverside, which also contains research from the University of Miami and the University of Exeter stated, “Cuban-American voters remain strongly Republican, conservative and opposed to easing sanctions on the Castro regime … But there is greater diversity on social issues, which may portend changing political allegiances once Fidel Castro is no longer Cuba’s leader.”
Until Castro resigns from his post and Cuba’s current government is abolished, Cuban-American voters are not likely to vote against party lines. Bachmann noted her stance on the Cuban-American population and their native land. Bachmann, who has represented Minnesota in Congress since 2007, recently won the Iowa Straw Poll. By doing so, she established her top-tier status in the GOP race.
Despite her low ratings in Florida, she remains positive. “I want to win Florida twice with your help: Once in the primary and then the general, and that’s how we will make Barack Obama a one-term president.”