By Evelyn Perez-Verdia
Welcome to 2014 and in Florida, we will be selecting a governor in November. The two top contenders have name recognition, Republican Governor Rick Scott and Democratic candidate and former Governor, Charlie Crist. Governor Scott and his advisors do not forget that in 2010, Marco Rubio won 62% of the Latino vote and Governor Scott himself took 51% of Latino votes.
I was a witness to many Hispanic women having no idea what Marco Rubio stood for. However, he seemed like a “good kid” and by golly, he was muy guapo! He got the ladies vote. This situation hits close to home, as some of those individuals are members of my family. In 2010 Hispanic women voted in higher numbers than Hispanic men. The ages of Hispanic women who voted the most were over the age of 41.
The news of Carlos Lopez-Cantera being appointed the first Hispanic lieutenant governor by Florida Governor Rick Scott might not be exciting for many; however for the politicos who do the numbers, it is a brilliant choice. The former Miami-Dade Property Appraiser is a charming, good looking 40 year-old Cuban American man from South Florida. He almost seems a bit of a Marco Rubio clone…clever. Kudos to whoever orchestrated this one. By the way, I would love to meet you…whoever you are.
Since the famous televised debates of Kennedy and Nixon on September 1960, we have seen time and time again that facial appearance may influence voting decisions in elections. The visual appearance of someone has a remarkable effect on what individuals think about politicians. Even though televisions were in black and white, Kennedy’s strategist placed a blue suit and grey suit in front of the cameras to see which one he looked best in. Kennedy looked charming, with more color vs a sweaty, pasty and sickly Nixon. Focusing on the power of image did not dawn on many, and Nixon had no way of winning, once the splendor of beautiful politicians was unleashed. However, people who watched the televised debates said that Kennedy won the round and those who heard it by radio said that Nixon won.
Studies show that attractive individuals are likely to receive more attention, which in turn amounts to more votes than unattractive individuals. If Rick Scott goes at it again with his high buy of television ads as he did in 2010, Lopez-Cantera’s policy or good argument are going to matter much less than imposing his visual favoritism. With his ability to speak in Spanish to Hispanic media and appear with his beautiful family on behalf of Rick Scott, he will create a connection with Hispanics statewide, which is something possibly the Democrats are taking lightly.
Even though Governor Scott says he did not pick Lopez-Cantera for his ethnicity. We politico aficionados know that there is no step taken in a campaign without being strategically well thought out. Democrats are angry, and have accused Scott of picking Lopez-Cantera to play ethnic politics in a state where Hispanics are the fastest-growing demographic group and account for about 14 percent of the registered voters. Is it really a bad thing, or should the Democratic Party be taking note? However, keep in mind that the last Democratic candidate for Governor, Alex Sink, took 48% of the Latino vote in 2010. The Democrats can win the Hispanic vote because it is already in their hands, if not taken away by massive efforts currently taking place by Republicans in Florida.
Governor Crist remembers that he only received 18% of the Hispanic vote in the 2010 US Senate race. Crist more than likely will pick a woman. However, I am not sure he or the Democratic Party could find a woman that also spoke Spanish and that would have the credentials to be Lieutenant Governor.
The race for Florida Governor will be interesting. Interesting choices are being made and things are starting to get spicy. I am looking forward to the next clever step from both parties. It will be especially interesting to see which political campaigns finally get it. This is only the beginning, and if the Hispanic strategy only amounts to lip service, it will literally cost politicos the Latino vote, which some consider will be the tie breaker between both parties.