Campaigns and Political Parties Need to Spice it Up

Domino Effect English

 By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hispanics or Latinos. Most of us are known to be warm individuals, amicable and culturally engaging. We do not tend to be a society that is reluctant to open up to those who approach us. Quite the opposite. We are that weird family inviting you over to our house without hardly even knowing you and trying to make you drink one more tequila as we try to “enchilarte” (make you eat something spicy that you can’t handle) for our entertainment. At least that is how it is in our Mexican-Colombian household. Like we would say in Spanish: “Entre mas amigos, mejor.” Translated to English; “the more friends we have, the better it is for us”.

With our culture in mind, it is mind boggling how such a great political force is not being engaged by those in political power. There is no turning back my friends. You cannot wait six months before the 2016 or 2018 election to come knocking on our door. You cannot turn away the opportunity of having a debate in a national TV channel in Spanish. You need to get to know us, and allow us to know you.  You need to gain our trust and tell us why we are so important to you, to our state and to this country.

Not engaging the Hispanic/Latino community

According to Latino Decisions, a leader in Latino political opinion research, in 2014, 55% of Latinos that were polled said they were not contacted by a campaign, political party or community organization in the final months before the election. The polls they have reported over the years document the consistently low rates of campaign engagement of Latinos/Hispanics eligible to vote.

In Florida, a state where the largest minority of registered voters is Hispanic, the 2014 gubernatorial candidate won by about 1 percentage point-a 61,000 vote difference. In 2012, Latino Decisions reported that 48 percent of registered Latinos voted nationwide. According to numbers shared by Miami Herald’s political reporter Marc Caputo, 64 percent (over 1 million) of registered Latinos voted in the 2012 Florida General Election.  As stated by different analysts and even supervisors of elections, people go out to vote based on the inertia that the campaigns and the political parties place into the election. After having conversations with both Latino Democrats and Republicans around the state of Florida, here are some observations:

We do not know who to vote for

The domino effect in reference to Hispanics and politicos is that Hispanics do not get involved due to not knowing who to vote for. Also, according to those individuals who are engaging our community, many Latinos do not know what each political party represents. To their dismay, political parties and campaigns do not take the time to invest in them.

Wait for the “big honchos” to infiltrate the state

2016 is on its way and what seems to be the tendency for political parties and campaigns to do here in Florida is to wait for the national party team to bring in their “movers and shakers” in order for them to win Florida. Many do not know the community in Florida, they just see numbers. Every 4 years a new group of people come in and have to start practically from scratch trying to figure out how to reach our community. Those Hispanics/Latinos who know the community and who are from Florida are not included and their knowledge is underestimated.

Continue reading

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

 

 

Face-Off: The Hispanic Engagement Strategy for the Crist and Scott Campaigns

 

Left to right: Jaime Florez and Omar Khan

Left to right: Jaime Florez and Omar Khan

I have been writing often in reference to the 2014 Florida gubernatorial campaigns. Whichever campaign focuses heavily and strategically on the Hispanic vote, will be the winner of the 2014 Florida gubernatorial campaign.   I decided to contact the Crist and Scott campaign and ask them about their campaign’s current Hispanic engagement efforts.  Here is what they had to say:

This is what Jaime Florez, Hispanic Communications Director for the Rick Scott Campaign had to say about their Hispanic engagement:

“This week, Let’s Get to Work will be launching Oportunidad, its first Spanish language TV and digital ad. I cannot recall a previous gubernatorial campaign in Florida where Spanish paid media started this early. The initial $500,000 Spanish media buy, which launches Wednesday, is only the first of many to come that will share with Spanish-speaking Floridians Governor Rick Scott’s record and vision for our state. Still, paid advertisements are just one component of a comprehensive effort in engaging Hispanic voters throughout our state at every level, especially at the grassroots, with a sustained volunteer-to-voter contact.

We are very excited about the foundation we have laid over the last several months to get to this point. We have a Spanish communication shop providing daily information to the Spanish-language press. Our Hispanic Political Directors have been building a strong network of support within the Hispanic community’s elected officials, civic, faith-based and business leaders. The Spanish website www.rickscottporlaflorida.com will be going live tomorrow, giving voters the option to follow our campaign and receive updates in English or Spanish. On our social media sites, we’ve posted bilingual messages, encouraging followers to communicate in the language of their preference.

Much is said about “Hispanic Outreach” in politics and gauging a campaign’s commitment to secure the Hispanic vote by a set of benchmarks: How much is spent on Spanish paid media? Does the campaign have a Spanish press shop? Is there a Spanish website? Do they have a Hispanic political team? Going by the traditional political checklist, our campaign is months ahead of the Charlie Crist operation in putting into place and executing a campaign that is committed to earning the vote of each Hispanic in Florida. It’s noteworthy that if the Crist team has not been able to maintain an English speaking spokesperson, imagine how long it will take them to hire and keep a Spanish speaking spokesperson? All kidding aside, our campaign is not traditional. From the Governor to our volunteers, this campaign is committed to not just checking a list of benchmarks. We will implement the most robust “Hispanic Outreach” seen yet.

Florida’s diversity provides for a unique campaign approach that is more substantive and goes beyond traditional “outreach” but requires a more in- depth commitment and discipline to build an enlace with the Hispanic community. By continuing to execute this approach we will prove successful in November. More importantly, the ethnic richness of our state strengthens the focus of our campaign, which is ultimately about creating oportunidades for ALL Floridians.”

This is what Omar Khan, Campaign Manager for the Charlie Crist Campaign had to say about their Hispanic engagement:

“We are focused on building a campaign that looks like the people of Florida. One of our first senior staff hires is Hispanic, and we will certainly be communicating with voters through Hispanic media. And just today, we’ve launched www.CharlieCrist.com/Espanol to share Governor Crist’s vision with Florida’s Spanish-speaking community.

But more important than the process of the campaign is policy of the candidate. Governor Crist believes that our state’s diversity is its greatest strength. He believes that we can create more opportunities by lifting all boats: investing in making college more affordable, and putting a laser focus on making Florida the beacon for Latin American trade and tourism, which will create thousands of new job opportunities for small businesses. Governor Crist will create a Florida Trade and Development Representative whose job will be to open doors for Florida businesses to new markets – particularly Latin American – and who will answer directly to the Governor.

This is a significant departure from Governor Scott, who campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, has reduced opportunities for HIspanic students to get an affordable college education, and has made it much harder for people to vote. Charlie Crist believes everyone should be able to live the American Dream here in Florida.”

My thoughts?  If I could give two pieces of advice out to any campaign it is this:

1.  Make sure you are sending out press releases in Spanish to media en Español  and Hispanic community leaders.  Every press release you have in English should be in Spanish also.

2. Invest, invest, invest statewide in placing ads with local community papers in Spanish as they are the gatekeepers of the Hispanic community.  This is the paper that the community picks up to read.  Seeing your ad in these papers sends a message that says: “you matter to me”  Contact me if you would like my opinion on which ones I would use statewide.