Much is at stake.
Cuba policy has always been framed by significant under-the-table political contributions from Miami developer lobby and Growth Machine. It has always been about spreading cheap growth into farmland and served the purpose to organize political control through voting blocs in Miami-Dade and by extension, the exercise of power in Tallahassee and Washington, DC.
For more than two decades, Sergio Bendixen predicted that as non Cuban Hispanics grew in number and as the older generation of Cuban exiles waned, that the Cuban American lock on political power would weaken. The tipping point was reached in the November 2012 election.
The effect is not to diminish the complexity of US Cuba policy, but it does mean that organizing elections around anti-Castro vitriol no longer work. For example, the TV ad in the last week of the campaign, promoting the image of President Obama as a friend of dictators clearly misfired. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign had cultivated Hispanics and a much softer appeal on social issues that enflame the diminished radical right.
Cuban American hardliners cannot change demographic facts.
This doesn't mean that the political order in Miami will change instantly, sending the Growth Machine scrambling for new candidates. (Count on the Fanjul sugar billionaires to reassess the altered landscape at once.) As we explored in the absentee ballot fraud issue, local elections are all about mechanics (including illegal cash contributions to pay workers) of ward and precinct politics.
What it does mean is that the power struggle underway in Cuba today will be matched by a domestic struggle in Miami to maintain the old political order. As indicated by the extraordinarily tight race between Ross Hancock and Erik Fresen, change is on the horizon. Some Miami political consultants will have to drop their prices.
In both Cuba and Miami, there are new opportunities to pivot. It will not be so easy for old guard.