In about ten months Americans will go to the polls for the midterm elections. It is hard to predict what the current mood of the nation will be, but an unintended consequence of our racist response (I don’t know how else to describe it) to helping Puerto Rico recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria could tilt elections in the purple state of Florida.
Somewhere between 150,000 – 200,000 Puerto Ricans moved to Florida in the two months following Hurricane Maria and that state’s Puerto Rican population is now by some estimates more than 1 million people. Over the next two years Puerto Rico is expected to lose almost 15% of its population or approximately 500,000 people with the majority likely to end up in Florida. Just like the Cuban population in Florida, Puerto Ricans are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, but unlike their Latino brethren, they overwhelmingly identify and vote Democrat.
Puerto Ricans are still smarting from our inaction, and Republicans in Florida have become alarmed by the influx to their state. Noting not only the disproportionate burden their state shares in providing social services, education, etc… but also what this could mean for their re-election bids.
I might start believing in karma if the heartless response to helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria resulted in turning Florida’s 29 electoral votes into a reliable state for Democrats. The key moving forward is mobilizing and channeling the rightful rage of Puerto Ricans who have fled their home into a voting block that will rival and surpass Cubans in the state of Florida. It is hard to imagine how short sighted the Republican Party’s response to helping the island of Puerto Rico could be if their inaction results in turning the third most populous state (by Electoral Votes) Democrat in the winner takes all Presidential elections come 2020.