If there is one thing Democrats have learned after losing the election to Donald Trump, it is that they cannot continue to take Latino voters for granted.
Being a heterogeneous community that contains multiple origins and traditions within one denomination, Hispanics in the United States are often subject to stereotypes and generalizations that do not distinguish their specific needs.
The Biden campaign seems to have realized this.
In a new ad, the former vice president’s team has used a Spanish-language slogan to attack presidential verbiage — “Telling stories won’t pay the bills.” — heard in Miami with a Cuban accent, in Orlando, Florida, with a Puerto Rican accent and in Phoenix with a Mexican accent.
While this seems to indicate an opening of the Democratic Party’s eyes to the interwoven identity that forms the country’s Hispanic demographics, it is a new outreach strategy that Voice of America describes as “micro-targeting,” which involves using data modeling of voter populations to produce ads and customize outreach to individual ethnic groups within a community.
“We now have the capacity to do sub-ethnicity modeling,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, said on a recent conference call with Biden advisers.
“If you meet someone named Perez or Alex or Rodriguez in Florida — and you want them to vote for Joe Biden – one of the most important things you ought to learn about them is, are they Rodriguez, Alex or Perez from Venezuela, from the Dominican Republic, from Cuba, from Puerto Rico…” he said.
For the Party, the risk of Latino absenteeism in November is now higher than ever.
Despite the Trump Administration’s aggressive anti-immigrant agenda, to think that it would drive Latinos to vote en masse in the upcoming presidential election is a dangerous notion, especially in swing and battleground states.
Biden’s campaign calls hyper-competitive locales like Florida “1% states,” and Perez points to the Democratic Party now being able to micro-target by sub-ethnicity as to why the party can be more successful with Latinos than in 2016.
It means, “really understanding that we’re not a monolith,” said Julie Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of civil rights leader Cesar Chávez and a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign. “It’s not about taking an English campaign ad and translating it into Spanish and considering that Latino outreach.”
So far, and according to the latest polls, Biden continues to have trouble getting the Latino vote.
As Domenico Montanaro reported in his article about NPR’s polling on the race, “the one group Biden continues to underperform with slightly is Latinos — 59 percent of Latinos said they’d vote for Biden over Trump, but Clinton won 66 percent of their votes in 2016.”
It seems that the campaign will have to do much more than translate its ideas into three different accents to convince an electorate that is clear about its needs, and that has not yet seen a real solution on the table.