by Pilar Portela, Media Relations Supervisor, Business Wire/Florida
Latino votes increased nearly 25 percent from the 2004 presidential election to the 2008 election, and it is estimated almost 10 percent of voters this November will be Hispanic — a 26 percent increase from 2008 figures.
The numbers raise the question — will Latinos have an even greater impact on the upcoming election than they did in 2008?
This summer Business Wire’s LatinoWire sponsored two expert webinars on:
- How the Hispanic Media Will Be Covering the National Elections
- The Influence of Hispanic Voters on This Year’s National Elections
If you missed them, the first webinar featured top political journalists who cover the Latino vote and the second featured two nationally recognized authorities on Hispanic affairs and politics and the Latino media.
Both webinars covered the upcoming elections and what the issues of interest are to Latinos. Here are some highlights:
- Pilar Marrero, senior political reporter and columnist for La Opinión and Impre.com, and Maria Elena Salinas of Univision said Spanish-language media like theirs must cover all aspects of the elections, ranging from the simple – such as the voter registration process – to the hot topics and issues that affect not only the national but local elections.
- “I’ve been with La Opinión since the late 80s and ever since then I’ve covered most elections, be it the federal level, state level and local elections, and [La Opinión] always has had a dual set of plans around the elections. One is the general elections coverage, and second is civic engagement,” Marrero said.
- Dr. Federico Subervi, Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Media & Markets at Texas State University- San Marcos, said Latino representation is very scarce in the general market English-language media. He said one can see this with the absence of Latinos from the morning TV programs and contributing to the community newspapers. Overall the general market network news minimally covers issues related to Latinos, which plays into lack of connection to the election process and candidates.
Aside from the obvious issue of immigration, Salinas pointed there are other issues Latinos are interested in.
- “Most polls show that jobs, the economy, education and housing are the top issues for Latinos,” Salinas said. “However, the immigration issue is the issue that moves their votes.
- Dr. Gabriel Sanchez, who works in the Department of Political Science at the University of New Mexico, shared a Latino vote map — www.latinovotemap.org — by Latino Decisions that allows visitors to simulate Latino turnout and vote choice in the 2012 Presidential election. He said while there are differences between Latinos regarding language, religion, language and origin — there is a shared cultural heritage and sociopolitical status leads to political cohesiveness among Latinos.
It is that cohesiveness which could play a large role in this Fall’s election.
- “We have said for years if not for decades that the Latino vote is the `sleeping giant’ that has finally awakened. I think that was so in the last election and it could be so in this election. Except we have a very big problem and I think the biggest challenge we have right now is to motivate Latinos to go out and vote,” Salinas added.