Representative Darren Soto has represented Florida’s 9th district since 2016. Since the district’s creation in 1963, the representative’s party has switched from Democratic to Republican or vice versa four times, with the most recent party switch being Representative Alan Grayson’s (D) defeat of Todd Lang (R) in 2012. While the margin between candidates were much wider in the 2008 and 2010 elections when incumbent Gus Bilirakis won, after the seat was won by a Democratic representative in 2012, the margin between the Democratic and Republican candidates have grown closer. FL9 has a large Latino population of 46.5% and smaller African American and Asian populations, at 9.7% and 4.2%, respectively.
According to Tom Wong in The Politics of Immigration: Partisanship, Demographic Change, and American National Identity (2017), Republican legislators are significantly more likely than Democratic representatives to vote for restrictive immigration policies and Republican legislators are significantly less likely than Democratic representatives to vote for permissive immigration policies. Wong also points out the strength of partisanship in “The Politics of Interior Immigration Enforcement” (2014), as Republican partisanship is the most consistent predictor of support for strict immigration bills. Additionally, he finds the Latino population of an area goes up, the likeliness of the representative to vote for strict immigration bills goes down. In “Partisanship or Population? House and Senate immigration votes in the 109th and 110th Congresses” (2013), Casellas and Leal writes that there is growing partisan divide, as party voting is consistently predictive of bill support or opposition.
As a Democratic representative, I predict that Soto is less likely to vote for restrictive immigration policies and more likely to vote for permissive immigration policies, as explained in Wong 2017, Wong 2014, and Casellas and Leal 2013. And because his district has a high Latino population of 46.5%, he is less likely to vote for strict immigration policies.
These predictions appear to be correct as immigration is a policy priority for Soto. He writes on his website that his policy priorities include “comprehensive immigration reform that would allow people to pay any taxes they owe, get right with the law, and when that’s done, get on the path to citizenship,” “protecting DREAMers,” and “modernizing the guest worker and visa systems that are vital for our agriculture and tourism industries.” Two of his proposed bills and three of his co-sponsored bills are immigration-related, and between 2017 and 2018, Soto voted against restrive immigration bills in 8 out of 11 votes and for permissive immigration bills in 3 out of 3 votes. However, his social media does not discuss immigration as much; between an 1, 2019 Mar 1, 2019, only four of his tweets were related to immigration, and they were specifically only about the border wall.