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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Can Obama hold onto younger Cuban-American voters in Florida?

MIAMI — Anton Fajardo voted for John McCain in 2008 but is now for Barack Obama.

Alex Toledo backed Obama yet likes Ron Paul.

Juan Morales also voted for Obama, and thinks he will again, but is keeping an open mind.

Three perspectives on the 2012 election with a common tie: Fajardo, Toledo and Morales are in their early 30s and of Cuban descent. Together they represent an ideological shift that is altering Florida's political landscape and may help decide the presidency.

A couple generations removed from the exile experience of the 1960s, which created lockstep allegiance to the strongly anti-Communist GOP, younger Cubans are brandishing a more independent outlook.

"Any Cuban I know who is over 45 years will vote Republican no matter what," Fajado, 32, said over the lunchtime commotion of Miami Beach's Lincoln Road. "I think my peers will vote as I do, whoever they think is the best candidate."

The race between Obama and Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, is expected to be a repeat of Florida's 2008 election, which Obama won by less than 3 percent of the vote, so no advantage or weakness among 1.2 million Cuban-American residents can be overlooked. (story here)

[Last modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 12:22am]

    

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