Florida's Race Embodies a Polarized Electorate

Osceola is just part of a group of counties in Florida which have moved farther in the direction they leaned four years ago. Many of those areas that were conservative in 2008, in Florida, were even more conservative in 2012. And those counties that were liberal in 2008 were even more liberal in 2012. Miami, for example, gave 62 percent of its vote to Obama this year and 58 percent in 2008. Voters in Marion County, in contrast, gave 58 percent of their vote to Romney this year, and 55 percent to McCain four years ago.

And not everybody in the I-4 corridor, or in Florida, is happy about the recent population shift. Robert Danenfeld, a retired judge from New York, said that the rapid influx of Latinos has made some whites in the area uneasy. He was concerned about the display by those singing and dancing at the polling precinct, fearing it would be alienating to the other half of Floridians.

"There's some resentment here, particularly about the language and not learning English," Danenfeld said. "I'm not sure the singing [in Spanish] is a good idea."

Danenfeld was campaigning for his friend, Latino Democrat Armando Ramirez, who won a local seat which has been held by Republicans for a very long time. But Danenfeld is concerned that electoral politics will cause the cultural rift between the Latino community and the large white retiree community to grow larger.

"They might not know the resentment is there, but it is," Danenfeld said.

Just a few miles from the Buenaventura Lakes polling precinct, voters at the St. Cloud Senior Center showed another side of the county. An area with many more white families and retirees, 55 percent of those who voted at the precinct, voted for Romney.

While population shifts have prompted some Republican leaders, like George W. Bush, to focus on capturing the Latino vote (he won around 40 percent nationally in 2004), Mitt Romney largely failed to do so in Florida and in other important swing states like Colorado. His stance on immigration, proposing "self-deportation" did not play with Latino voters especially. In Florida, Hispanic voters ranked immigration as the second most important issue they were voting on, after the economy in Tuesday's Latino Decision poll. Romney's loss in the state and across the country will likely necessitate a restructuring of the GOP platform to appeal to a more diverse electorate.

During his victory speech last night, President Obama addressed the challenges of uniting an ethnically and politically diverse nation, but insisted that the similarities holding us all together are stronger than our differences.

"What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth," he said.

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