Elections

Will Obama’s Cuba opening cost Clinton a win in Florida?

Donald Trump at the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016.
Donald Trump at the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Miami Herald

Hillary Clinton has lost ground to Donald Trump in must-win Florida after he dashed into Miami to pick up support from Cuban-American voters, many of whom are angry with President Barack Obama’s new friendship with Cuba.

They appear to be taking it out on Clinton.

Clinton’s once-growing lead in the critical swing state had dropped to 1.6 percentage points at the end of the week, according to an average of state polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. It had been 3.3 percentage points, boosting confidence that she could win the state for Democrats. One new poll has Trump ahead by 2 percentage points.

[RELATED: Will Latino voters turn out for Hillary Clinton?]

Boosted by the endorsement of Miami’s Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, Trump strode through South Florida on Tuesday courting Latinos, and especially the traditionally conservative Cuban-Americans, by taking a tougher stance on Cuban relations.

“The United States should not prop up the Castro regime economically and politically, as Obama has done and as Hillary Clinton plans to do,” Trump said at Little Havana’s Bay of Pigs museum. “They don’t know how to make a good deal, and they wouldn’t know how to make a good deal if it was staring at them in the face.”

[RELATED: On 20th anniversary of Cuba shoot-down, U.S. softens language in a ban on travel]

He met with the mother of a Brothers to the Rescue pilot who was shot down by the Cuban government over the Florida Straits and told a Spanish-language radio station, Univision’s Radio Mambí 710 AM, that the White House rapprochement was unfair to Cubans in Florida.

The Bloomberg poll, which has Trump up 2 points in Florida, shows him gaining a slight upper hand as critical independent voters break his way in the crucial battleground state

Some Cuban-Americans are likely tying Clinton to Obama’s moves to open more diplomatic relations with Cuba – an issue many South Florida Cuban-Americans see as appeasing the Castro regime in Cuba. Trump, who previously had seemed open to relations with Cuba, promised last week to reverse the administration’s unilateral regulatory changes toward Cuba, if elected.

[RELATED: Clinton had a bigger lead before]

Clinton favors lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. Two out of three of Florida’s likely voters approve of Obama’s efforts to improve diplomatic relations with Cuba, including 57 percent of Latinos, according to polling.

Nationally, Trump has driven a wedge between himself and Latino voters. He has proposed deporting 11 million immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally and suggested building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Clinton, meanwhile, has said she would introduce an immigration overhaul in her first 100 days in office.

Seventy percent of Latinos surveyed said they planned to vote for Clinton compared with 17 percent indicating they would vote for Trump, according to a new National Council of La Raza poll, conducted by Latino Decisions.

Yet in Florida, Clinton has only 51 percent of the Latino vote, likely because of the large Cuban-American population, which historically leans Republican, according to the Bloomberg poll.

[RELATED: Trump loss would fuel push for immigration reform, advocates hope]

“This poll suggests Trump has more opportunity in Florida than some think is realistic given his poor standing with Hispanics,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “But he does well with groups that are key to winning there, including older, more reliable voters. Clinton depends on younger voters and a strong presence at the polls of black and non-Cuban Hispanics.”

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