Conservative Marco Rubio Won 55 Percent of Latino Vote in Florida Senate Race, Says Exit Poll

By Terence P. Jeffrey | November 3, 2010 | 2:33 PM EDT

Florida Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio gives two thumbs up after casting his vote as his wife Janette, left, looks on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in West Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

( - Marco Rubio—a pro-life, pro-free-market, limited-government conservative—was elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida on Tuesday, winning 55 percent of the Latino vote in the process, according the network television exit poll conducted by Edison Research.

Nationwide, Republican congressional candidates won 33 percent of Latino voters, while 65 percent of Latinos voted for Democratic congressional candidates, according to the exit poll.

Nationally, Latino men (37 percent) were more inclined than Latino women (29 percent) to vote for Republican congressional candidates. But that was not the case in the Florida Senate election, where Rubio’s vote was virtually the same among Latino men (55 percent) and Latino women (56 percent).

Rubio defeated Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic candidate, and Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Republican who initially challenged Rubio for the Republican nomination but then left the GOP to run as an independent. Meek won 21 percent of the Latino vote and Crist won 23 percent.

Rubio is the 39-year-old son of immigrants who fled Cuba after Fidel Castro took over that country and imposed a communist regime there. He was born in Miami and raised there and in Las Vegas, graduating from South Miami High School. He later graduated from the University of Florida and the University of Miami law school.

In 2005, Rubio became the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida state house of representatives.

Before and during his campaign for the U.S. Senate, he was an unapologetic advocate of traditional values, the free-enterprise system and American patriotism.

“See, I was not born to a wealthy or connected family,” Rubio told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 18 of this year. “And yet I have never felt limited by the circumstances of my birth. I have never once felt that there was something I couldn't do because of who my parents were or weren't. Now, why is it that I've been able to accomplish the things that my grandfather could not? Why did my dreams have the chance that his didn't?

“The answer is simple. Because I am privileged,” said Rubio. “I am privileged to be a citizen of the single greatest society in all of human history. There's never been a nation like the United States, ever. It begins with the principles of our founding documents, principles that recognize that our rights come from God, not from our government principles that recognize that because all of us are equal in the eyes of our Creator, all life is sacred at every stage of life.

“These principles embody the commitment to individual liberty which has made us the freest people in history,” said Rubio. “They also made possible our free-enterprise economy, which has made us the most prosperous people in history. The result is an America where--which is the only place in the world where it doesn't matter who your parents were or where you came from. You can be anything you are willing to work hard to be. The result is the only economy in the world where poor people with a better idea and a strong work ethic can compete and succeed against rich people in the marketplace and competition. And the result is the most reliable defender of freedom in the history of the world.

“Simply put, there's nothing like America in all the world,” said Rubio.

In his May 2, 2008 farewell speech as speaker of the Florida state house, Rubio told applauding colleagues of his belief in God, the Miami Herald reported.

“God is real,'' Rubio said. “I don't care what the courts says, I don't care what laws we pass, you can't pass a court ruling that will keep God out. … God is not some old man with a white beard. … God is a real force of love. He loves every human being on earth. Whether you are an embryo or behind bars.''

Edison Research exit-poll takers interviewed 17,504 voters after the cast their ballots on Tuesday at randomly selected precincts all across the country.