One of the prevailing themes discussed within political circles over the last decade or so has been the potential influence of the “sleeping giant” — the Hispanic or Latino voter. For years anticipation encircled this ever increasing demographic that it would finally rise and flex it’s political muscle, and Texas (fill in the state or congressional district) would flip from red to blue … or at least an approving shade of purple.
Without fail, we’d anxiously await election results before witnessing yet another disappointment. No, Latinos had not flocked to the polls and no, we had not flipped a targeted state or congressional seat. Insert more punditry on why they stayed home and opining on what it is going to take to wake the sleeping giant.
Waking the sleeping giant into taking action is going to take some work. It requires a commitment from candidates, parties and PACs to turnout the Latino voter. It’s going to take more than running Spanish ads weeks before the campaign. It will take the acknowledgement that Latinos, although they lean Democrat, cannot be taken for granted.
In large measure, Latinos are not making it to the polls despite being registered. Latinos choosing to sit on the sidelines have impacted election results. According to an analysis by The Nation, the number of Latinos that stayed home far surpassed the margin of victory in red states. Let this sink in. Just imagine how different my beloved home state of Texas would be if Latinos turned out.
The Nation, January 31, 2018
So why do Latinos stay home? No doubt voter suppression practices are an issue but there are other issues at play. For many Latinos, participating in the electoral process is not a priority. We need to solve for this or Latinos will never realize their political power.
Absent fixing the larger issues around voting such as making it a national holiday or automatic voter registration, what is it going to take?
This topic could easily lead me to write a dissertation but there are basic actions that a candidate can take:
- Start with understanding the underlying motivators to voting, or in this case, not voting.
- Develop strategic messaging targeting Latinos that is not simply a translation of the messages being developed for the general population.
- Understand the issues that are most important to the segment and their community. Sometimes they’re the same issues that are important to their non-Latino neighbors but there are nuances that are unique to the community. A candidate that understands these nuances demonstrate that they “get” the Latino community.
- Finally, recognize Latinos are bicultural. We live in dual worlds and we often go in and out consuming English and Spanish language media.
This is a good place to start. Of course, you can always reach out to Pescador Public Strategies, LLC and we can put you or your candidate on a path victory and to awaken the sleeping giant by turning out an unprecedented Latino vote.