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Political experts say Latino vote needed to win Florida, but new support may be hard to get

They make up a fourth of Florida's voters, and a CBS News poll shows more than 80 percent of them plan to vote in November.

TAMPA, Fla — A big group both presidential candidates have their eye on: the Latino population. 

They make up a fourth of Florida's voters, and a recent CBS News poll shows more than 80 percent of them plan to vote in November.

"There's no question that the fight here in Florida is in large part about getting the Latino vote," political expert Frank Mora said. 

But the professor from Florida International University says garnering new support from Latino communities in the state won't be easy.

"In this state, there's a lot of people who have already decided who they're going to vote for. So candidates are fighting for fewer and fewer votes than they did back in 2016," Mora said.

Almost 40 days out from Election Day, a CBS News battleground tracker found former Vice President Joe Biden still leads Hispanic voters in the state with 56 percent. President Donald Trump stands at 36 percent. Biden's numbers have fallen over the summer while Trump's have risen by 6 percent.

"The question is going to be what the final numbers look like with the Cuban American population in South Florida versus the LatinX populations out the rest of Florida," Howard Wasserman said.

The law professor at Florida International University says political views differ depending on where you're from. Most Cuban Americans are focused on healthcare, while many Puerto Ricans shifted their focus to the Island, searching to get help after Hurricane Maria and possible statehood.

"South Florida, you have a large concentration of Latino communities and it's not just Cubans. There are an increasing number of non-Cuban Latinos here in South Florida. Colombians are the second largest. You have Puerto Ricans in South Florida, you have Central Americans as well. Then, of course, in the central part of the state, you have a much larger Puerto Rican population, but you have other Latino populations there as well that one should not discard," Mora said.

It's why both candidates need to focus on more than just the Interstate 4 corridor this election season. Pockets of Latino communities have grown in the northern and southern parts of the state.

"This is all about margins, and this election, and the polls indicate that Florida will be a close election. There's no reason to believe that it won't be within a point or two, if not less," Mora said.

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