Greg adds in his opinion on the Latino turnout question, and as usual it’s worth your time to read in full. Two things for me to comment on. First:
If there is a one point that I’ve been reluctant to air publicly, it’s this: The two worst classes of people to talk to about Hispanic outreach are 1) Hispanic politicians, and 2) Hispanic political consultants. While there is certainly insight to be gained from both, neither has much of an idea of how to make the dream of massive electoral turnout among Hispanics happen.
In discussing Kuff’s blog post from earlier this month on the topic with him a while back, I made the point that one reason you never hear the alleged master plans for ginning up turnout being talked about is because too often, there’s a golden goose at stake. In other words, there are groups and individuals out there that will promise you massive increases in turnout among Hispanics. And for a small (or large) sum, they’ll promise to put it into action. With their people, with their plan, with their supervision, and often … with little accountability. If the candidate wins, then no questions are asked. If the candidate loses, you just move on down the line and pitch the next moneybag candidate. This isn’t solely the case in Hispanic politics, mind you. It’s predominant among a number of base-partisan communities of all colors and all stripes.
One reason why I suggested that we begin thinking about this problem by thinking about raising money address it is because I think to some extent the question of Latino voting needs to be removed from individual candidates and campaigns in favor of a more holistic and ongoing approach. I don’t know how much the Democratic community as a whole learns about what works and what doesn’t from one campaign to the next, I don’t know how much of what does get learned gets transmitted from one campaign to another, and I don’t know how much of what gets learned is worth learning. Wouldn’t it be nice to institutionalize that? Tell me if you think I’m off base here.
I doubt that I’ll ever get too deeply into the retelling of events from the last campaign I worked on, but one move that I think served our opponent well was that he hired consumer marketers as part of their Hispanic outreach. For Dems, that type of move doesn’t fully substitute for the need to knock on doors and make phone calls. But I do think it’s a wiser move than relying on the conventional, in-house political wisdom of what moves Hispanic voters.
One point I’ll throw into the mix for now: the concept of where Hispanic voters are is something that tends to get oversimplified and this often skews the understanding of what issues, values, and language motivate them as well as what network of people they surround themselves with. In other words, East End or Northside activists probably aren’t your best bet to talk the talk to the more numerous number of Hispanic voters that live in the suburbs.
I’ll be introducing some research over the week to make this point more fully. For now, here’s three maps to compare and contrast some 2000 Census data for Harris County on where high-density concentrations of Hispanic population live and where the more diffuse populations are. They show census tracts where the Hispanic population represents 65% of the total population, 35% of the population, and 25% of the population. My point, boiled down to it’s core, is this: We do a great job as a part of speaking to those areas where we are at 65% and a not-so-good job to those where we are at 25% and 35%. And the scary part of that premise is that there are more Hispanics that live in the more diffuse areas than there are that live in the concentrated areas.
I made the point that Latinos are on average younger than us non-Latinos, and as such they don’t necessarily consume news and media the same way us old fogeys do. NewsTaco enhances that observation:
Latinos are the fastest growing digital technology user group in the country. It hasn’t taken long for someone to begin picking Latino on line behavior apart; proven markets with a potential for growth will do that. ComScore is the latest someone to do it. Here’s what comScore, that calls itself “a global leader in measuring the digital world and the preferred source of digital marketing intelligence,” has to say about Latino on line activity in a recent website post: “Hispanic consumers are more receptive to online advertising than non-Hispanic internet users.”
In other words, Latinos click and read on line advertisements more than others – what marketers call click rates. Or as RICG.com puts it, “Whereas 31 percent of Hispanic Americans enjoy watching online advertisements, only 19 percent of the broader consumer audience agreed with that statement. Hispanics were also more likely to base their purchase decisions on digital marketing initiatives (30 percent compared to 15 percent) and remember advertised products when shopping (35 percent compared to 22 percent).”
Seems to me we could learn something from that.