Why Candidates Can’t Ignore the Growing Latino Population

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The Hispanic vote is one candidate candidates can no longer ignore in Florida.

“We’re going to be the biggest demographic, we’re a powerhouse, both economic and social. So they, they want to have the Hispanic vote,” said Blanca Contreras, a local Latino nonprofit president.

Census data shows Latinos make up nearly 8% of Charlotte County, nearly 28% of Lee County and 29% of Collier County.

The Hispanic Vote: Why Candidates Can’t Ignore Latino Population Growth

The Hispanic community also expresses that, even if it grows, it is not unequivocal.

“They’re trying to put you in a pocket and you can’t get out. So they say, oh, Hispanics are Democrats or Hispanics, nobody understands Hispanics…we’re still learning about Hispanics because they are no different from non-Hispanics,” said Rafael Lopez, a Cuban voter.

“I am Puerto Rican born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York and all of Florida, but I am registered as an independent. I was previously registered as a Democrat,” Sharitz Lopez-Rodriguez said.

As the numbers continue to grow and evolve, the Hispanic community says there should be no stereotypes about how they vote.

“There are 22 Hispanic countries in the world,” Lopez added. “They try to put you in a pocket and you can’t get out. So they say ‘Oh, Hispanics are Democrats’ but nobody understands Hispanics…because they’re no different than non-Hispanics.”