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Cuba, followed by immigration, are top trending issues on Facebook in Florida

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Miami is the host for presidential debates of both major parties over the next 36 hours, but will the moderators focus on what Florida voters actually care about?

That certainly seems possible on Wednesday night, as Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos and The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty will probably be supplied with data from Facebook, one of the sponsors of the forum being held at Miami-Dade Community College in Kendall.

Cuba and immigration are the top two political issues that Florida residents have discussed on the social media platform over the past 30 days, according to statistics provided to Florida Politics.

The communist island has been in the news a lot lately, with President Obama scheduled to become the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. The Tampa Bay Rays are also scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Cuban national team on March 22 in Havana.  There’s also been media attention focused on Major Lazer’s concert at Havana’s Tribuna Antiimperialista on Sunday night before 400,000, according to a Cuban government report.

Second on the list is immigration, which undoubtedly will be discussed tonight, with the debate broadcast on Univision (and simulcast in English on CNN).

The size of government is third on the list of issues discussed in Florida on Facebook, followed by government ethics and homeland security and terrorism.

Compare that to the questions that have been most commonly discussed on Facebook nationally over the past month: religion, economy, immigration,  racial issues and taxes.

There’s less of a gap when it comes to what political candidates Florida Facebook users are talking about, vs. in the rest of the country.

Donald Trump is by a wide margin the most discussed political figure on Facebook, and it’s not even close. In Florida, there have been over 22 million interactions regarding Trump over the past month. The next most discussed politician was Hillary Clinton, who has had 8,975,000 interactions.

Clinton is next, with over 8,975,000 interactions, followed by Bernie Sanders, with 6,012,000 interactions.

Next come Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Cruz has had 3,656,000 interactions over the past month. Rubio has had 2,894,000. And John Kasich is last with 615,000.

That aligns exactly with how Facebook users nationally are talking about the candidates. Trump

Facebook says the figures that they look at are people – the number of individuals engaged in a conversation about the candidates – and the number of interactions those people generated. Interactions are an aggregate figure of all the likes, posts, comments and shares about a particular candidate from throughout Facebook in the U.S., not just the discussion on a given candidate’s page.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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