Winning Over the Latino Vote

As the Hispanic population continues to surge,  US Census projections show that after 2030 about 1 out of every 4 Americans will be of Hispanic descent.  Are we ready for a Latino or Latina President in the White House?

Politicians seeking office in the next two decades should seriously consider brushing up on their high school Spanish.  The Hispanic vote will be up for grabs and whoever best understands the Latino political psyche will, undoubtedly, come out ahead.  Although the spotlight continues to swirl around bipartisan bickering in Washington, the next battle lines to be drawn will be over the Hispanic voter.

Unlike their ‘compadres’ who are better established in the US, most foreign-born Latinos have fled from a politically entangled economy in their country to come to the US. The emotional scars inflicted on these potential U.S. voters have left a lasting effect of deep rooted mistrust for any political party. Even here in the U.S. these same voters are currently witnessing Washington lawmakers grapple with potentially polarizing issues such as the aggressive patrolling along the US-Mexican border.

For some it may be deja vous, all over again! Back in their home country, Latino voters have had their fill of empty political promises, placating rhetoric, and unscrupulous lawmakers to the extent that if a political analyst in Washington sought a reliable barometer to measure voter apathy after a political event, any Latino voter over the age of 25 would qualify. They have seen and heard it all!

Where there is apathy, complacency is not far behind. Any candidate who believes that the Latino voter can be won with a couple of ‘slick’ promotional ads may be in for a surprise. Latino voters are not only hard to win over but even tougher to gauge.  Why?

When asked how they feel about a candidate, one should be prepared to hear what one wishes to hear. Latinos, by nature, do not like to disagree openly with people outside of their inner family circle. They will say just the right words to give the impression that they are in full agreement. What they truly feel remains ‘in the family’.

The Latino voter requires patience and reliable research to grasp their concerns. They may speak the same language, Spanish, but the cultural ’engines’ that power their individual and collective emotions vary widely.  A ‘one-message for all’ strategy may miss this coveted target altogether.

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