How to win the Hispanic vote

Family reading a newspaper

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

I hardly watch Television in Spanish, but you can find me switching from one Spanish radio station to another in my car.  I am usually with my children sitting at our local Colombian restaurant picking up Nuestra Ciudad Weston, a local community paper in Spanish and English that tells me what is going on in my city or checking to see what is the latest Tweet sent by  I am a concerned and dedicated voter, but I have never seen a candidate advertise in these local papers.  Hopefully, this article will help campaigns change their mind.  

I remember being 22 years old and being the campaign manager for a state house incumbent in a prominent Hispanic district in Tampa, Florida.  There was a consultant who would come weekly to inform me what I needed to do in the week with our team.  I still remember the media outlets in Spanish that he picked for the campaign were: La Gaceta Newspaper, Univision and a couple of radio stations in Spanish Now, Tampa as well as the rest of Florida’s Hispanic population has grown and the media outlets have grown with it, but the question is: are consultants continuing to advise campaigns to use the same media outlets in Spanish that were used in 2002?  Are the consultants ignoring the rest of local community media outlets that currently exist?  Do they not understand the value of the Hispanic media outlets and the local community papers in SpanishIs it time to update the Rolodex?  

Angelette Aviles a Republican businesswoman and a communications consultant certainly thinks so.  She believes that campaigns are not getting the big picture.  She says: Political consultants are good at making brochures, mailers, canvassing, etc. and fail to hire a communications expert to focus on the Hispanic market. Consultants have no up to date Rolodex on media contacts or the experience to drum up publicity to garner the attention of those media contacts.”

It is likely that whoever attracts the Hispanic vote in this upcoming 2014 Florida gubernatorial election, will be the winner of the race.  The objective of consultants should be to attract the vote of over 1.6 million Hispanic registered voters that exist in Florida.   If you want to be the winner in your race, this is what you need to do to win the Hispanic vote:                                     

1.  Hire a Bilingual communications consultant.

Orlando Nieves, general manager of Centro Mi Diario, a print and digital paper in Spanish that delivers FREE to more than 67,000 Hispanics in Tampa Bay (Pasco, Pinellas & Hillsborough Counties) had a good point in regards to why political campaigns are not reaching out to Hispanic media outlets like his:  “Not every market has a widely circulated publication and it requires buying many small ones which the media buyers may not be familiar with.  Also, the lack of a strong bilingual campaign person affects the strategy of the candidate.  Unless they can understand the medium it’s difficult for them to buy into it.”

Campaigns now need to hire dedicated people who truly know the community leaders and media in Spanish, who can return a call to the media in Spanish and answer their questions, that can translate a press release and get in touch with the Hispanic/Latino community in their language and with knowledge of their culture.  It is like me trying to reach out to the Russian community in Broward and making myself an expert at this.  Consultants need to work together with consultants whose expertise is engaging the Hispanic community through the media outlets that exist. I am one of many political consultants focused on the Hispanic community.  It seems many of us are not being subcontracted by consultants or being used in statewide political campaigns.  

2. Do not ignore local community papers in Spanish.

Editor Rafael Palacio from the newspaper in Spanish: El Sentinel of Orlando which has more than 130,000 weekly copies that are distributed mainly to homes in five counties of CentralFlorida, mentions that a great majority of the readers of the papers are people who truly do vote and should not be ignored.  

“Both campaigns (Crist and Scott) have inundated us with e-mails and information, but in a very cold manner.  Both let us know that they have websites in Spanish.  However, when we tried to contact them for more details, they did not respond to us.  Then I sent them information about an event we were having, a round table discussion about Immigration Reform, neither campaign responded to us.  It is very sad.”

Similar words I have heard from other Hispanic media outlets for years in reference to statewide political campaigns approach to Hispanic media outlets.  Most feel that they have either been abused of by wanting free editorials and for the media to publish their press releases.  However, when the media asks for advertisement or for an interview, the other side of the telephone goes silent.  When they ask to interview the candidate, they do not get a response back. Don’t be this type of campaign.  Invest in advertisements with the local community papers and respond back to their e-mails.   

3.  Advertisements in Spanish for Television is important, but very expensive. Try radio and print also.

When looking at the Scott and Crist campaign, Scott has a Hispanic communications director that focuses solely on the Hispanic media and has the funds to pay for advertisement.  Actually, when you ask the Hispanic media outlets, who is reaching out to them, they are stating that Scott’s campaign is constantly reaching out vs. the Crist campaign.  It is savy for the Crist campaign to invest in the local papers and the radio as it is more economical than Television.  Since we are possibly more than 15% of the registered vote in Florida, statewide campaigns should be investing 15% of their media budget into the Hispanic media outlets.

If you add up the circulation numbers for Spanish print, you are dealing with a source that campaigns have left untouched for years and could create a shift in the amount of Hispanics that show up to vote.  In addition, print newspapers in Spanish are the gatekeepers of the Hispanic community.   Rafael Palacio from El Sentinel Orlando mentions: “Why do you invest in Television, but us, who are INVADED with your press releases, who ask us to cover your events…we need to make clear that it is not about if you place an ad in my paper then I will cover your event, and if you don’t, I will not cover it.  That is not how it works.  It is about being aware of your public and the different types of voters, and that your advertising budget should reflect a larger diversity of the media outlets.

4.Print papers reach different distribution points in Florida and have a longer shelf life

Jolie Gonzalez, owner of Latin Times magazine and also a community leader who is currently the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay, has a statewide publication where her strongest distribution points are Metro Orlando, Tampa Bay – I-4 Corridor, and South Florida. She distributes: 25,000 Print Editions. She also has her e-Magazine and Mobile magazine, same as print, but longer shelf life and typically ends up with 50,000-75,000 readers.

“It is important to build relationships with the media outlets targeting Hispanics, because we are small business owners, and we are specializing in communicating and reaching this niche market in specific.  If you are looking to reach and communicate with the Hispanic/Latino community -then you should be utilizing the media tools that they read. Jolie said.

Could this be why the Democratic Party has not won the Hispanic vote in gubernatorial race since Jim Davis ran for governor in 2006? 

Albert Einstein once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”   The strategy that is being done over and over again is not working, but could change if campaigns hire a good consultant who knows the Hispanic leaders, the media outlets in Spanish and their community. It is time to stop ignoring the Hispanic media outlets.  It is time to start respecting them as the gatekeepers of the Hispanic community and placing ads in their papers.  It sends a message to the community that you care.  Whoever listens and starts being proactive in this arena will open the gates to becoming the next governor of Florida or the next winner of their raceRegardless which party affiliation you are with, don’t be insane-change the strategy!

Tips On Winning The Hispanic Vote

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Tip: if running a statewide campaign, 15% of your media budget should be focused on Hispanic media outlets. We are 15% or more of the vote. Remember to not only invest in TV, but also print and radio. Do not forget about our local community papers in Spanish–they are the gatekeepers to the Hispanic community. I also mention some other things to keep in mind for the upcoming election season.

Are You For Or Against Legalizing Medical Marihuana?

 By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

The finger puppet’s name is Señor Dedo Politico (Mr. Political Finger).  I created him to give a different view to politics.   I have many friends that hear me speak about politics and find it absolutely boring.  They tell me that they don’t like politics, they are immune to it, and sadly enough, they are the ones who also don’t vote when they are U.S. citizens and could.  I want to captivate them and make politics fun.  I want to remind those that dislike politics that voting allows you to have a voice.  The choice to legalize or not medical marihuana will be on the Florida voting ballot this upcoming General Election. This is my way of saying to those that do not vote that politics matters and we can have a say in it.

Sr. Dedo Politico Marihuana



The Lack of Understanding of Political Parties

There is a large percentage (29%) of Hispanics/Latinos that are registered to vote in Florida with no political party affiliation (NPA). If you ask an election worker about their interaction with new citizens when registering them to vote, many can tell you that the new voters decide to have no political affiliation because many do not know what each party stands for. How can we educate the voter on the different parties that exist?

Others may not choose to be part of a party as they believe more in people than in parties.  Hispanics in general tend to vote for the person and not the party. Although, I do know many people who do not know what each political party’s beliefs are.  Some also choose a party due tradition and to the family being from the same party affiliation.  Others choose a party because they are told that it is the party that represents Hispanics.   As a Hispanic, I can say that there is not a specific party that represents us as Hispanics.  Everything depends on how we grew up, on our values.   Do we believe that government should be more or less involved in our lives?  I liked the following website called Diffen in reference to the differences between the Republicans vs. Democrats.

Due to the lack of understanding that exists, I asked two people who are very involved in the two largest political parties of the U.S.A.  to share with us why they are a Democrat and a  Republican.  I want to thank them for taking the time to explain why they are faithful to the party they represent.

President of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida.

Vivian Rodriguez: President of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida.

Why Am I a Democrat?

By Vivian Rodríguez

Being a Democrat is who I am and represents the values and beliefs I stand for and hold dear. Everyone is equal in this great nation and there are no exceptions to the rule. Everyone should be respected and celebrated for their diversity and contributions to society. We all deserve a fair shot in achieving equality and no American should ever face discrimination on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.

Traditionally, the Democratic Party has advocated for the rights of the underprivileged and middle class. We stand up for the civil rights of everyone living in this country, including the immigrant community. Democrats support comprehensive immigration reform that will boost our economy and build a stronger more representative nation. Through the Dream Act, young immigrants will be able to become legal residents and citizens, contributing to the fabric of our nation.

We believe in laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace, housing, and the disenfranchisement of voting rights. We support the Equal Rights Amendment, Employment Non Discrimination Act, American Jobs Act, and Affordable Health Care. We must strive to protect the rights and socio-economic conditions of our fellow Americans by affording them accessible quality health care and the expansion of Medicaid throughout the state of Florida.

Through the Affordable Health Care Act, families will be able to keep their college-bound children on their parents’ insurance plans and insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse to cover their children because of pre-existing medical conditions. Many women will be eligible to receive preventive services for cancer screenings, annual checkups, contraception, and will not be charged a higher premium than men because of their gender. I believe that women should have the right to choose in their personal decisions without having any governmental interference. Democrats believe in helping our seniors by safeguarding their contribution to Social Security and making Medicare stronger by adding new benefits and eliminating fraudulent claims.

Democrats believe that every student has a right to a quality public education system that provides the American dream of prosperity. We must provide college students with affordable tuition options through student loans, Pell Grants, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. I believe we must support our American workers with strong labor laws. Americans should have the right to organize and lobby for an increase in the state minimum wage, paid sick leave, and health insurance.

Democrats believe in our veterans by passing the post 911 G.I. Bill, supporting our troops who return home with job opportunities and providing them with specialized health care assistance. They are the true heroes who keep our country safe from harm and continue to protect our country and the rights that you exercise in this great nation. I am proud to be an American and even though we may not be a perfect nation, I enjoy the right to be able to debate the issues and hope that one day we will reach, “Equality for All.”

These values and beliefs is what define me as a Democrat.

Hispanic Communications Director for the Rick Scott for Florida Campaign

Jaime Florez: Hispanic Communications Director for the Rick Scott for Florida Campaign

Why Am I A Republican?

By Jaime Florez

To those who migrated, along with the sadness of leaving behind the land and customs, part of the family, friends and some of the best memories, the country where we have arrived offers us a new life, new knowledge, habits and friends, almost a restart. And in that process, the opportunity to place ourselves ideologically where we best see fit.

Many come here and find a new religious congregation where spiritually they feel most comfortable. Others discover new interests; they let themselves get caught up into a new sport or simply fall in love with a new hobby. To me, as a Colombian and I suppose, to many more, the arrival into the United States gave me, amongst many others, the opportunity to consciously define my position in the political spectrum.

Upon arriving here we find a solid democracy and a rich political culture based on a robust bipartisanship. After analyzing platforms and backgrounds I decided on the Republican Party because, as they promote themselves, they are the collectivity of opportunities and prosperity. I firmly believe in free enterprise and in that I fully identify with the Republican ideas.

The prosperity to which they refer to is the result of more and more people creating and growing their own businesses, generating more jobs, paying fair taxes that are wisely invested for the welfare of all. Prosperity does not come to a country that grows its own government apparatus and becomes the largest employer and the main source of livelihood, because having not the need to comply with efficiency, it will end up just squandering resources and eliminating competition. We must create jobs, yes of course, but in the private sector, so that the public sector’s resources are invested in health, education and infrastructure, not in the scaffolding function of government.

Opposing politics have led this nation through the difficult and wrong path of fiscal irresponsibility. As a Republican I think it is imperative that we cut spending and government waste, we put stop to the careless spending of public resources and find a way to balance our budget reasonably. It is the only way to restore the country’s fiscal health which it so requires, to both stabilize and heal its finances.

I believe, so I am a Republican, in the defense of basic social principles. I defend individual freedoms and advocate that the United States fulfill its role as a defending nation of human rights, democracy and self-determination of peoples. We are the last stronghold of those basic principles and we cannot allow humanity to fall into the hands of regimes that disregard the importance and value of the human being.

The Republican Party is the option of compassion and respect for others.