Friday, May 24, 2024

Presidential Candidates Making a Strong Push to Reach Latino Voters

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When Jeb Bush announced his run for president, he chimed Cuban music, made direct appeals to his Mexican-American wife and offered speeches in Spanish and English. When Hillary Clinton launched her campaign, her first policy speech was a pledge to provide a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, at a high school where the Latino student population is over 70 percent. And when Martin O’Malley made his first public appearance after declaring his candidacy, he did so in a Q&A session at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). But these pushes to reach Latino voters should come as no surprise to those in the political know, understanding the surging presence of Latinos in the U.S.

“The competition for Hispanic political support is not just about the present,” wrote Gene Budig and Alan Heapsin a recent opinion column. “It is also about the future. The Hispanic population is growing faster than most other groups. Today, it is 18 percent of the total population. By 2040, it will be 24 percent. By 2060 it will be 29 percent.”

In the 2012 presidential race, 11 million Latinos turned out to vote, securing a second term for President Obama. In 2016, some 28 million Latinos will be eligible to vote, essentially paving the road to the White House with the Latino vote. While most candidates have taken this in stride, some (Donald Trump in particular), have seized the moment to push extreme and degrading rhetoric against Latinos and immigration writ large. But the beating the GOP took in 2012 for the Latino vote is reflected in this season’s theme across the board for candidates: reach the Latino voter, and reach them effectively.

“Presidential candidates will need to focus their message in a way that includes Latinos and advances policies that Latinos – and most other Americans – want to see,” Alex said. “Those are an increase in minimum wages, access to affordable healthcare, quality education, a clean environment.”

But immigration – the invariable ‘gateway issue’ – is still a prominent blip on the political radar, and as debate season takes hold, these issues will indeed come to prominence. So too, inevitably, will be earning the Latino vote.

FOX Latino