MIAMI — Carlos Campos came to Miami from Venezuela in 1979, before dictator Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution brought about the unraveling of the oil-rich country. But it wasn’t until 2016 that Campos became actively engaged in US politics. Donald Trump’s “America First” message stirred something in him.
Sitting down at a Cuban restaurant just minutes from the Trump National Doral golf resort — one of the former president’s major Miami-area properties aside from his Mar-a-Lago estate — Campos described how he came to the realization that his values aligned more closely with Republicans than Democrats.
He attends Alpha & Omega, a Spanish-language evangelical church in Miami, and is anti-abortion. He wants stricter border policy, believing that the US isn’t doing enough to keep out criminals and that everyone should enter the country legally — despite the difficulties that even his fellow Venezuelans have recently experienced trying to immigrate. He supports a small government and a strong military. His children attend an evangelical private school because he didn’t want them to be “indoctrinated” with leftist ideas in public school, even though Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed first-of-their-kind laws cracking down on discussion of LGBTQ issues and race in the classroom.
And Campos believes Democrats are endangering fundamental rights to bear arms and to free speech, following the “same script” that led to the downfall of his home country.
“I see something bad happening here, and I can’t keep myself quiet,” said Campos, now an organizer for the Miami grassroots group Venezuelans for Trump. “If we don’t wake up, America is going to be another Cuba. This is the last war between socialism and democracy.”
He’s part of a growing share of Hispanic voters whose political and cultural views helped Republicans flip traditionally blue Miami-Dade County in 2022 and bring about a broader red wave that swept Florida that year. Those victories — along with Trump’s residency and DeSantis’s hardline policies — cemented Florida’s transition from a swing state to the center of the Republican universe. It was the seemingly inevitable conclusion of years-long Republican efforts to consolidate power, Democratic underinvestment, and shifting attitudes among once reliably blue voting blocs.
Whether it stays that way for the years to come has big consequences for both future presidential candidates pursuing the state’s 30 Electoral College votes and the nearly 22 million Floridians who are essentially living under one-party rule. For his part, Campos is betting that the era of Republican dominance in Florida has only begun.
“People are not blind,” said Campos. “And Democrats have not understood the problem.”
How Republicans engineered Florida’s red shift
It’s not just Campos: By the accounts of many Republicans and Democrats, Florida is indisputably a red state and seems likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
“There may be a day, which I doubt I…
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