Good news: Latino voters are making a significant impact on elections across the country.
Bad News: More than half of eligible Latino voters…don’t.
Why not? Thanks to our friends at Pew Hispanic, we have more fodder for this discussion. The numbers are clear and actually have been consistent for the past couple of years. While more than 11 million Latinos went to the polls last November, more than 12 million didn’t. Imagine the impact even a small percentage of those nonvoters could have if they made the effort. In spite of their growing numbers, Latinos continue to lag behind all other voters in this country.
This is bad news but it’s also not really news anymore. We’ve been hearing this for some time. And while there are many organizations such as NALEO, Voto Latino and others busy trying to figure this out, the fact remains the disparity between Latino voters and nonvoters is getting bigger.
Today’s news contains important information for those of us dedicated to using communications strategies to effect social and political change. The picture of who these voters are is getting clearer. According to the Pew survey, the largest percentage are young men who identify their Mexican roots. And while we certainly need to find out why they aren’t voting, we can and should immediately begin to focus on who they listen to.
I can tell you who influences the young, Mexican-American men I know — the women in their lives: their mothers, grandmothers, wives, girlfriends, aunts and sisters. I know this isn’t scientific and to some, it probably sounds stereotypical, but we can immediately begin to impact this group if we start there. We can develop the right kinds of messages to “influential” Latinas to motivate the young men in their lives. NALEO Executive Director Arturo Vargas realized this after his organization invested in a similar survey last year and through focus groups discovered the powerful influence Latinas have regarding these kinds of issues in their families.
We can and probably should spend more money and more time trying to study this phenomenon. But sometimes the solution isn’t that complicated.