Major parties still miss when courting Latino voters
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE disrespecting Latinos by eating a taco salad on Cinco de Mayo or his campaigns anti-immigration policies are not enough motivation to vote against him.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KainePoll: Kaine leads GOP challenger by 19 points in Va. Senate race GOP offers to ban cameras from testimony of Kavanaugh accuser Corey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report MORE (D- VA) speaking Spanish is not enough either to get the Latino community to vote for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency MORE. Latinos will determine the outcomes in Nevada, Florida, Colorado and likely Virginia. The Latino vote will impact Senate races across the country. But the question which remains is: What will motivate Latinos to actually show up and vote? Who will encourage the young Latinos and the new Latino voters that are crucial to win elections?

ADVERTISEMENT
In 2012, Mitt Romney only received 27 percent of the Latino vote. George Bush in 2004 received 44 percent. This demonstrates how the Latino vote is up for grabs as it continues to grow in almost every state. In North Carolina, the Latino vote has grown over 200 percent in the past 10 years. In Nebraska, this same demographic has grown 400 percent. So yes, even though the majority of Latino community in the United States lives in CA, TX, FL and NY, it is growing at incredible rates across the country.

Latinos are issue voters who care about more than just immigration. Recent polling has shown that Latinos’ top concern is the economy and jobs, similar to our Anglo counterparts. Luckily for the democrats and Hillary Clinton, they line up with the majority of the Latinos on our core issues. It is for this reason that Romney only got 27 percent of our vote in the last election; his issues and policies did not resonate with the Latino community. I am sure that Hillary Clinton will get the vast majority of the non-Cuban Latino support across the country. But this support will be from the “traditional Latino” voters, and as I mentioned, the Latino community is growing exponentially.

Every month we see 60,000 Latinos turning 18, which makes me wonder, who will be in charge to mobilize these new and young Latinos in neighborhoods to vote?

A significant financial investment is necessary in the Latino communities in order to educate and motivate our people to the polls. Organizations such as the National Council of La Raza, League of United Latin American Citizens and Latino Victory Project, all of which are trusted by us Latinos, have seen their funding be reduced as all of the advocacy money is being moved to fund presidential and congressional Super PACs. There is inclusively a presidential non-profit c4 that is setup to mobilize people of color; however, it has no meaningful tie to the targeted communities. The conservative Koch brothers funded The Libre Initiative, which has the same goals as the democratic organizations aforementioned. Although they have been active for over a year in Latino communities in targeted states, their main obstacle now is their nominee for President.

The Latino outreach programs in most campaigns, parties, super PACs, and nonprofits are not seen as a priority. I have actually had first hand experience as these programs are referred to as “secondary markets”. And when such “secondary markets” are finally noticed, the funding goes into translating English ads to Spanish, without taking into account any cultural relevance or input from the community itself. But I will give credit to our Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWarren joins Sanders in support of striking McDonald's workers Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE and to the Hillary Clinton Campaign for hiring the most diverse consultants, campaign staff, and teams in the history of presidential campaigns.

During the past democratic primary election, Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly won Latino voters over the age of 40, while Bernie Sanders won almost all Latino voters under the age of 40. Normally, the Latino vote that Bernie Sanders managed to win is a slim portion of the overall general election vote because of the low performance rate.

However, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) won these voters because we did something very unusual in the primary: we targeted those Latinos who had never voted before as well as Latino millennial’s. My concern is that if this specific demographic is not targeted for the general election this coming November, then they might not show up and vote. I cannot stress enough how critical it is to target this Latino segment. One needs to speak to them and make their issues known, as well make your points known to them in a culturally relevant manner by trusted messengers of both sides.

I must say that Hillary has assembled one of the best Latino outreach teams I have ever seen and I am confident that they will work in the Latino community to maximize their votes in targeted states. Nonetheless, I do not think her team can do it alone and it is not safe to assume that Latinos will show up for the sake of voting against Trump.

In 1994, California Gov. Pete Wilson backed Proposition 187 in CA. This proposition was an anti-Latino ballot measure that would deny health care, education and welfare benefits to illegal immigrants. The progressive movement, Democratic Party, and Labor spent over 40 million dollars in CA to educate, register and mobilize Latinos.

They defeated Proposition 187 and turned California blue forever, where there is now a Latino speaker for the House and President of the State Senate. And I can honestly say and credit that their investment and funding is directed towards California’s Latino community in a meaningful way.

There is a unique opportunity with the Trump candidacy to change the Latino vote forever. But neither Hillary support in the community will create this change nor Trump shouting, “build a wall.”

The Latino vote must be put on the same level as the white population in the country if we want to change history forever. As Latinos we demand to not be considered a second-class citizen, we demand to not be a second-class vote.

Rocha is the president of Solidarity Strategies, a Latino-owned political consulting firm. Follow him on Twitter @ChuckRocha


 

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.