October 21, 2010


Hispanic media influence grows in election year (LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, 10/20/2010, AP)

Even those who toe a hard line on immigration are seeking to make their case in Spanish-language media, recognizing that they need some Hispanic votes to win and that Hispanics — who account for 9 percent of registered voters nationwide — are concerned about more than that one issue.

During Florida’s primary season, for example, Republican gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott and Bill McCollum had their first debate on Univision, even as they competed to see who could stake out the harshest stance against illegal immigrants.

“The tighter the race — and there are many this year — the more you reach out to niche constituents, and Latinos are niche constituents,” said Texas State University Professor Federico Subervi and author of the “The Mass Media and Latino Politics.

Subervi believes the interest in Hispanic media is particularly high for a midterm election because the Arizona immigration law has become such a hot topic.

“People want to know what are Latinos going to do given all this rhetoric,” he said.

But it’s also the result of a concerted effort by companies like Univision to “plant the flag and reach out to mainstream political figures,” said Jose Cancela, head of the Miami-based marketing firm Hispanic USA.

Once Latin American presidents were top among Ramos’ guests, but last Sunday, his list included Delaware Governor Jack Markell, whose state is hardly known for its Hispanic population.

Univision Networks President Cesar Conde has made political coverage a top priority, beginning with the company’s first presidential debate in 2008. He sees 2010 as something of a curtain raiser. The network is airing debates hosted by English-language media in New York and Illinois.

“We need to step up our efforts to ensure that the Hispanic swing vote is best equipped to make responsible and informed decisions,” he said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 21, 2010 6:02 AM
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