Thursday, June 30, 2011

The next war: Jeb Bush, the GOP, and the non-Hispanic white vote in South Florida ... by gimleteye

In 1996 Art Teele, an African American county commissioner, ran for county mayor hoping to assemble the same majority in demographic proportions like those that propelled Carlos Gimenez to the county mayor seat over Julio Robaina this week. The theory was, that if Teele could pull moderate support from Hispanics, overwhelming support from African Americans, and a majority of non-Hispanics whites that he could trump Alex Penelas. Teele, like Robaina, was dogged by allegations of shady business practices.

1996 was before the boom, before the Jeb Bush terms, and housing boom and bust. The demographics (Hispanic, African American, and non-Hispanic White) have shifted but they haven't fundamentally changed. (The subtleties are emphasized in the shift among Hispanic voters.)

The determinant factor in 1996 was money piled in from the Latin Builders Association members. The top players were Republican but they also counted on Penelas (and President Clinton) to obtain the Homestead Air Force Base for a privatized commercial airport. They plowed, then, nearly two million dollars into Penelas' campaign and he handily defeated Teele, a Republican.

According to The Miami Herald and an Bendixen & Amandi poll, non-Hispanics whites voted for Gimenez over Robaina by a 3-1 majority. It was a huge advantage in a low turnout election. Tellingly, Jeb Bush backed the loser, Robaina, who was closest to his own support base among the builders and developers who crashed the economy in South Florida.

It is true that we tend to fight the last war, in this one. It is also true that politicians tend to fight the last campaign. There will be raised eyebrows about this week's election results by the political class, in view of the upcoming 2012 election. The performance of the white non-Hispanic vote for Gimenez shows that a strong segment of voters is highly disturbed by insider dealing and corruption that is usually taken for granted. But what of the weak performance of non-Hispanic whites relative to Jeb's endorsement?

While the Robaina loss may be a relatively minor point for the former governor, Bush is cultivating a role as a GOP sage. Jeb Bush must have regretted his early support of Robaina. (Perhaps the point is that corrupt business or unethical business conduct are poison with this electorate, unless the candidate has millions of your own money to plow into a campaign.) Miami is Bush's base, and he shouldn't be backing a loser here. Then there is another Miamian Bush is tied to -- US Senator Marco Rubio-- being cultivated for a national campaign carefully as a hot-house rose.

The point is: voters are paying attention is ways they hadn't, when the economy was flush and everyone was using their homes as personal ATM's. These are tea leaves from a low-turnout election. Still they point in a direction for candidates ambitious enough to set a new course for 2012.


Anonymous said...

Many Robaina supporters, including Bush, were surprised by the ferocity of the allegations leveled against him. After Robaina explained the matter, my guess is that Bush and others figured the issue could be overcome.

The constant pounding of the issue definitely turned off younger hispanics and white voters who still read the Herald. Even Spanish media was repeating the allegations. It is also clear that whoever is doing this investigation, or claiming to be doing an investigation, did nothing to quiet the rumors.

The fact that Robaina came within 2% is amazing when you consider this added context. Gimenez and his supporters are smart enough to see that the flip side of a 51% win is that almost half the votes went against you.

If you're looking for a larger message, you may conclude that Miami-Dade County's super 200,000voters are split almost precisely like the rest of the nation. Half is made up of conservatives and (fiscal and/or social) Republicans while the other half is liberal and mostly Democrats.

In regular county races, we will see more independents participate and their mood will be key to carrying the day. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

2012 will be interesting. I always remember the motto "politics are local" and really believe that.

No one can cure greed (cheap ag land to willing buyer) or entitlement programs, depending on which side of the aisle one may lie.

Jeb was an anomaly. And, speaking as a hated "pub" but not a tea party member, he was involved in very shady real estate deals way back to the 80's which he was never called on by the Dem's. That was a stupid error, but probably wouldn't have mattered to anyone who didn't have foresight!

As to the Hialeah vote, this is disturbing. It used to be Miami Beach or other areas that made or broke elections. Obviously, I'm an anglo and really hate, I mean get infuriated, at being called a non-Hispanic white. I'm a literal card carrying member with relatives going back to the Revolution (the one with the Declaration and all the stuff most in Dade either disregard or can't quote).

As to Gimenez, if he does what he he promised he'll be in good shape. If he doesn't, oh well, 2012 isn't too far away!

In the interim, thankfully, I can move to another county other than than this banana republic because I don't rely on the government for anything anymore other than police & fire and I won't even go there for that debate!

Anonymous said...

This race could have been about the dollars invested and the political capital spent on ensuring a winner. I guess in the end it wasn't. The hardcore republicans will apparently back just anyone who fits their profile no matter the truth behind the candidate. The press talks about how shady the politicians are, Rubio and Rivera, but they continue to win because of support from the big money backers and the big time republicans. Not this time. Take a look at who the former governor, the party, the big money supported and supports for coming elections. Think about those bad choices they want us to make and vote for. Look away from those trainwrecks and look outward for better choices.

David said...

While Gimenez was the obvious best choice for mayor, it's not saying much when your decision is between two slightly different bowls of shit.

Gimenez, Robaina, Teele, and the rest of their ilk are just similarly situated pimples on the ass of humanity.

Anonymous said...

May I remind you that the Pino/Penelas crowd is very much part of the "Jeb Bush experience"? Remember that Bush is Armando Codina's partner and pal, and Codina -- as well as Lennar -- are all involved in partnerships. May I also remind you that it was Alex Penelas who during the presidential election where Dubya was "appointed" president -- because HE WAS NOT ELECTED -- it was Alex Penelas who stopped the vote recount? They are "all" in this together... birds of a feather, and HELL, I really mean BIRDS OF A FEATHER! And, so there are no doubts, this pun was intended!

Anonymous said...

There is something bad wrong with the City of Miami, Its being destroyed from within just like Cuba and by cubans. The mess at the City lies at your feet, nobody else to blame but yourselfs.

Geniusofdespair said...

last comment:

You obviously have something to say...can you share specifics with us?

Or send to our email:

We can't address what we don't know about!

Anonymous said...

The City of Miami elected officials and sleazy administrators go from self induced scandal to scandal.

Anonymous said...

People clearly understand who the Bushes are. Anyone Jeb endorses, is not worth voting for. It is the kiss of death for a politician.

Anonymous said...

I have always said that as bad as George W. was, we were lucky that it was George and not Jeb in the White House.