Courting the Hispanic vote may be an integral part of both Republicans and Democrats campaign strategies this cycle, but Spanish language ads don’t appear to be a key part of their financial expenditures.
According to a new study released by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Spanish language ads have made up just under 5 percent of the total amount spent on ads in ten key states boasting a high Hispanic population since April.
The study analyzed data from Kantar Media’s CMAG, a group that tracks and analyzes campaign media buys, and focused on local television advertising in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Virginia. Across those states, more than $358 million has been spent on television advertising since April 10, 2012, going up until the beginning of last week. Just $16 million of that total has gone to Spanish language advertising.
In a statement, the CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Javier Palomarez called the results “troubling.”
“Political commentators from both sides of the aisle have said repeatedly that 2012 is the ‘year of the Hispanic voter’,” said Palomarez. “But while political advertising spending records are being shattered, neither political party is investing a comparable percentage of their advertising dollars to reach these voters. The difference between rhetoric and action is striking and, frankly, troubling.”
Both Romney and Obama have released Spanish language political ads as part of their strategy to appeal to Hispanic voters. But the strategy for courting the Latino population expands beyond Spanish television advertisements.
Both candidates have appealed to the Hispanic voting population in person as well. Recently the two men appeared back to back in a “Meet the Candidates” forum hosted by Univision’s Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas. In June Obama and Romney both addressed the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference in Orlando, Fla.
It’s important to note that not all Hispanic voters necessarily speak Spanish. There are several notable rising political stars of Hispanic descent on both sides of aisle for example who are not fluent Spanish speakers like Democratic keynote speaker Julian Castro and Texas GOP Senate nominee Ted Cruz.
It’s also important to point out that five out of the ten states included in the study- Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas, are not considered to be competitive in the presidential election, which would automatically lower the spending figures, notes Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
“Looking over this list, half of these states are not competitive” Sabato said. “Obviously you wouldn’t bother to spend much money there, so that would lower the overall average.
In 2008, Hispanic voters made up 9 percent of the total voting population, and on the whole favored Barack Obama–he carried the Hispanic vote with 67 percent to McCain’s 31 percent. Polling shows Obama maintaining a large lead over Mitt Romney among Hispanic voters; an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released in late August showed Obama with a 35 point lead over Romney with Latino voters; 63 percent to 28 percent.