Three areas that need to be addressed to win the Latino vote during the 2012 presidential election.
Last week I was part of a very dynamic Twitter party around the Latino vote. Ran by the Latism organization under the #liberatuvoz ("free your voice") hashtag. The event was part of an initiative to increase Latinos' participation in the upcoming presidential election.
The media has been extensively covering the importance that Latinos will play in deciding the next election. Organizations like Latism and the Ya Es Hora ("it's about time") coalition are helping empower Latinos to play a more active role and vote. Latinos might play a critical role in choosing the new American president, but in order for that to happen, there's still a long way to go to increase civic engagement and participation.
The Latino Vote: Opportunity or Gap?
Every month 50,000 Hispanics turn 18, showing the importance of Latino youth. In some states Latinos make up a significant part of the population. Latinos represent 37.9 percent of total voters in New Mexico, 25.5 percent in California, 14.2 percent in Nevada, and 13.1 percent in Colorado. Yet, when it comes to voting there's a huge gap. In the 2008 election, out of 19.5 million Latinos eligible to vote, only 9.7 million voted. As you can see in the graph below, there's an important gap. There are three opportunities to increase Latino voters:
Non-Hispanic whites who are registered to vote are only slightly more likely to cast a vote than registered Latinos; however, the real opportunity at hand is to convert 40 percent of Latino citizens into registered voters - for the 2008 election, that was nearly 9.7 million Latinos.
Why Aren't Latinos Voting?
The most obvious answer is lack of information. Not understanding how the system works and the fear to take time off of work appear on top of the list.
Yet, when reviewing other reasons (legal residents that haven't become U.S. citizens or feeling that one's vote doesn't count) it seems that one of the most important factors is that Latinos don't care. And I'm not saying it in a negative way; it's simply that if they don't believe that their vote will impact their everyday life, why care to vote or to get the citizenship?
I identified three areas that need to be addressed in order to effectively impact Latino behavior when it comes to casting their vote as you can see below.
Moving Beyond Information
Candidates and parties need to make a strong effort to engage Latinos. They need to understand that educating Latinos is important but only the first step. There's room for a true leader who can inspire Latinos to take a more active civic role as well as community support.
Political participation needs to be encouraged at home, school, and in the community in general. Family and friends play a critical role in encouraging other family and friends to vote. Organizations need to consider this as part of their outreach strategy.
Here are some of the ideas that were shared during the Latism Twitter party:
Candidates need to move beyond information. Engaging Latino voters requires a long-term strategy. Besides the Latino vote, politicians, parties, and organizations could use some marketing help, too.
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Gustavo Razzetti is EVP, Managing Director of Lapiz, the Latino shop of Leo Burnett. He has 20+ years of experience in integrated marketing communications in U.S. and Latin American markets.
A change agent, with the expertise of transforming agencies into digital at the core shops, Razzetti has become one of the leading voices when it comes to understanding the new market dynamics of US Latinos.
Former Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer at Grupo Gallegos, president of GlobalHue NY and CEO of Euro RSCG Latino. Razzetti's career is marked by extensive experience working with top consumer brands such as Comcast, Walgreens, Verizon, NestlÃ©, Chivas Regal, General Motors, Coca-Cola, and BBVA, and 200 others. He also served as CEO of Euro RSCG both in Puerto Rico and in Argentina. Prior to that, Gustavo was CEO and founding partner of WhyNet - the no. 1 interactive agency in Argentina.
Strategist by conviction, digital pioneer by choice, leader by evolution; Razzetti has received recognitions that include Effie awards, Gran Prix AMBA, Euro RSCG's CBI Award, and Strategic Planning Director of the Year, McCann Erickson. Many of the campaigns he strategically led won Cannes, Clio, New York Festival, London, and FIAP awards, among others.
On a personal note, Gustavo loves scuba diving, bicycling, gourmet cooking, and fine wines.
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