Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell took to twitter to dive into why she lost re-election in the district she flipped in 2018, pointing to a broader issue regarding how the Democratic Party campaigns, and why it lost seats in the November general election.
“Many have commented on Democratic losses in South Florida and with Latinos across the country,” Mucarsel-Powell wrote on twitter Wednesday in a lengthy thread.
“Let me set the record straight.”
The Florida congresswoman shot down recent claims from her own party that left-wing policies and “socialism” are to blame for the hit House Democrats took this election. Instead, she pointed to a fundamental campaigning issue targeting Latino voters.
“South FL is extremely diverse. We are unique. And when others try to treat Latinos as a monolithic group, they miss the nuances,” the first South American immigrant to be elected to Congress wrote on the social media platform.
Mucarsel-Powell, an immigrant from Ecuador, faced a competitor of Cuban heritage in a district that includes parts of the Miami suburbs and the Florida Keyes. It is an area that encompasses not only one of the largest Cuban American populations in Florida, but in the U.S. according to the Pew Research Center.
But Cuban Americans have different voting patterns from other Latino groups in the U.S. – a distinction seemingly not well recognized by the Democratic Party which likely proved consequential.
Many Cuban Americans fled, or have relatives who fled, the communist regime under Fidel Castro and are ardently anti-communist and anti-socialist.
“Yes, the fear of socialism is real and engrained for those of us who fled dangerous places in search of the American dream,” Mucarsel-Powell wrote. “My own father was murdered by a criminal with a gun in Ecuador.”
“But it’s not why I lost and it’s not the only reason South Florida went red.”
South Florida lost two Democratic seats on Nov. 3 when Rep. Donna Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell lost, likely a direct result of effective GOP campaigning, that though misleading, painted Democrats as anti-police and pro-socialism.
But GOP campaigning coupled with Democrats’ inability to effectively counter and advance their policies, is seen as what cost Democrats their elections, specifically among Latino voters.
“Despite this swing, I was one of just a few Democrats nationally to outperform Biden,” Mucsarel-Powell said.
The Florida Democrat said she led a campaign that addressed people’s economic concerns, went door to door and “Knocked on 23,000 doors and had conversations with 133,000 people via phone and text,” and invested in broader advertising tactics through the radio, mail, digital platforms and on TV, all in English and Spanish.
Democrats have faced some backlash for not prioritizing Florida more.
Biden did not spend much time in Florida, like many states around the country in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, who spent a substantial amount of time in the Sunshine State, made a point to move his permanent address from New York City to Florida almost exactly one year before the election.
He continuously visited the southern-most state prior to the election year and then held numerous rallies throughout 2020, including the day before the election.
But Mucarsel-Powell is not the only Democrat to take issue with how the Democratic Party strategized and campaigned.
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., the only incumbent Senate Democrat to lose his seat on Nov. 3, voiced his concern about the number of hits liberal candidates took this election cycle.
“Democrats have not been able to fully counter the Republican narrative,” Jones told Politico.
He also echoed a similar sentiment to Mucarsel-Powell in saying the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “spend too much time investing in candidates and not the electorate. They don’t invest in House districts, they don’t invest in states.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., has made a point to push back on centrists in her own party that has blamed her and other freshmen Democrats for “socialist” initiatives.
But the Florida congresswoman remains hopeful that the party can pull it together and learn from this election’s results.
“Florida & National Dems: Our brightest days are ahead,” she wrote concluding her lengthy twitter thread. “To get there, we must step back and deeply analyze how we’re talking to Latinos and every voter.”