Friday, May 24, 2024

When it comes to Hispanics, Ad Time is Not a Substitute for Face Time

Expert argues that Hispanics require more than ads and posters in order to be engaged in the political process.

This year the media has focused heavily on the importance the Hispanic vote will have in presidential elections. As a result more than ever before we have seen both candidates invest money and efforts into gathering support from the Latino community. Most recently, the Democratic National Committee and Barack Obama announced a 20 million dollar spending plan to invest in outreach to Hispanics voters.

Now that the money and interest in Latinos is out there, what will make a difference is how this money is actually being spent. Previously, it was assumed that Spanish ad campaigns were the most effective way to reach out to Hispanic voters. However, this ignores that fact that much of the Latino population is now younger and can be reached thru English media. Adam Segal, is director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University and has been researching Hispanic voting patterns since the year 2000. Segal explains that at least half of all Hispanic voters will respond to appeals through mainstream English language media as long as they’re reached “as Hispanics.” Segal also believes that Hispanic voters, in particular, need face to face interaction and that media buys and mailers simply will not be enough to turn out Hispanics in large numbers this November. According to him, “What may be more effective with Hispanics is old-fashioned flesh pressing, person-to-person communication.”

An example of this is the recent appearance of comedian George Lopez at a Las Vegas supermarket. During his visit he engaged patrons about why Hispanics should come out in support of Barack Obama in November. This appearance was met with strong enthusiasm. Mostly he was being himself, with his people. At one point, he turned to no one in particular and said, “This is it. This store is so powerful.” And the feeling was mutual: He beamed at the people and they beamed back.

Based on the findings of the Hispanic Voter Project this is exactly the type of outreach that candidates should engage in if they wish to win the Hispanic vote. Segal says that, “the solution is to send forth Hispanics who have backgrounds similar to those of the voters they are trying to reach.”

It seems that perhaps Barack Obama’s campaign has received that message. It remains to be seen whether John McCain’s campaign will soon follow this example. Segal concluded that “time and shoe leather” is what candidates really need if they want to make inroads with Hispanics this November.

Las Vegas Sun