You’ve heard it over and over again: Latino voters will play a crucial role in deciding who goes to the White House.
The public might believe that mantra, but presidential candidates don’t seem to buy it — at least that’s what their (scant) ground game implies.
A recent survey by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and Telemundo News indicates that presidential campaigns this year still largely ignore the Hispanic community. They do so at their peril.
More than 60 percent of registered Latino voters said that no campaign, political party or organization had contacted them regarding the November elections, according to the results of the national survey. That’s a crucial mistake by both parties.
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Democrats and Republicans are making the same mistakes with the estimated 28 million Hispanics in the United States who are eligible to vote.
Arturo Vargas, executive director of the NALEO Educational Fund, said the survey confirms what was already suspected: Even in this high-stakes election year, Latino voters are still being ignored, or taken for granted.
This could prove costly for the candidate that doesn’t make a sincere and credible pitch to the diversity of Latinos in this country. The influence of Hispanic voters has grown considerably in recent decades, and its weight already has been felt in races for president and Congress.
Showing disdain is not a good approach for any politician. After all, Latino voters are not just limited to the battleground states, including Florida. Hispanics are a presence in all 50 states, and their communities continue to grow. It is time for voter-mobilization efforts to reflect that reality. In Florida alone, U.S. Census figures released in June show the state grew by 1.46 million people from 2010 to 2015 — Hispanics represented 51 percent of that growth.
If the election were held today, the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton would win the Latino vote by a wide margin, according to the survey. It shows 71 percent of Latino respondents would vote for Ms. Clinton, while 18 percent for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, and the remaining 11 percent said they would vote for an alternative candidate or are still undecided.
Ms. Clinton has the edge among Hispanics, but almost half of respondents do not consider her trustworthy. As for Mr. Trump, more than 72 percent of respondents think his comments about Hispanics are racist.
Obviously, the rivals’ campaigns have much work to do to improve the image of their candidates within the Hispanic bloc.
Mr. Trump would have to show Latino voters that he does not harbor racist views against them, a difficult task after his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.
Ms. Clinton must continue to counter attacks from Mr. Trump’s camp and emphasize that neither the lamentable 2012 Benghazi incident, where four Americans died, nor the use a private email server as secretary of State amounts to sinister acts.
Moreover, and perhaps more important, Ms. Clinton must emphasize a commitment to unity and inclusion in the diverse mosaic that the United States is today, in stark contrast to the divisive and exclusionary discourse that has characterized Mr. Trump’s campaign.
According to the survey, it is estimated that more than 91 percent of Hispanic voters will go to the polls this November. It is a figure no candidate should ignore in the fight for victory.