Clinton appears to gain late momentum on surge of Latino voters

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. –AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. — Hispanic voters in key states surged to cast their ballots in the final days of early voting this weekend, a demonstration of political power that lifted Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes and threatened to block Donald Trump’s path to the White House.

In Florida, energized by the groundswell of Latino support and hoping to drive even more voters to the polls, Clinton visited a handful of immigrant communities Saturday and rallied Democrats in a town filled with Hispanic and Caribbean migrants.

“We are seeing tremendous momentum, large numbers of people turning out, breaking records,” Clinton said here in Pembroke Pines.

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Indeed, even as she fought to defend a series of more heavily white states that appear to have tightened — Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — Clinton appeared to find a growing advantage in the more diverse presidential battlegrounds: Florida and a cluster of states in the South and West.

Trump also began the day in this state, rallying supporters in Tampa. Without explaining what he meant, Trump said: “The Hispanic vote is turning out to be much different than people thought.” He also continued to assail Clinton over her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

Trump also stopped on Saturday in North Carolina, and planned to fly west for evening rallies in Colorado and Nevada. By holding events in those four increasingly diverse states, he was signaling a refusal to concede any ground to Clinton. He even announced Saturday morning that he planned to add a stop in Minnesota, long a Democratic bulwark.

But the evidence from polling and the early voting turnout seemed to indicate he was facing the possibility of losses in states with sizable Hispanic populations. An analysis by Catalist, a Democratic data firm, found that as of the end of early voting Thursday, five states with surging Hispanic populations — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada — had already cast ballots equivalent to over 50 percent of their total turnout from 2012.

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“The story of this election may be the mobilization of the Hispanic vote,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an anti-Trump Republican who has pleaded with his party to do more to win over Latinos. “And they didn’t come out for anybody as much as they came out against what they saw as racism.”

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