Standing in front of the big screen in the Kendall sports bar, Democrat Joe Garcia congratulated U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart for a hard-fought win, as the image of Republican John McCain giving his concession speech flickered behind him.
It was election night, and the crowd of college students, black activists and white and Hispanic supporters had been counting on Garcia's win in what polls showed as a nail-biter. This was supposed to be the year that tested Cuban-American voters' fierce allegiance to the GOP. Yet all three Cuban-American incumbents in Congress won handily even as Democrat Barack Obama made inroads among younger Cuban Americans and seized the non-Cuban Hispanic vote statewide.
Did the Cuba issue really fall from the political radar as some pollsters told us?
Or have Cuban Americans not budged an inch, as the Republican winners now tell us?
The answer is more nuanced.
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