By Kathy Whitlock
May 6, 2019 at 5:00 am ET
The 2018 midterm elections demonstrated that Hispanic America’s voting power not only helped shape last year’s outcome and historic result but also confirmed it will be decisive going into the 2020 elections. As candidates across the political spectrum assess the current landscape, develop campaign strategies and identify core targets for voter engagement initiatives, the power and influence of the Hispanic voter cannot be understated. Following the midterms, which saw a 174 percent surge in Latino engagement, it is more evident than ever that this coveted demographic is a crucial factor in elections as the new majority makers across the country.
As one of the country’s top five television networks and the leading Spanish-language media company in the U.S., Univision has been working collaboratively with L2 to develop exclusive analysis of state-by-state certified voter turnout data in key states and provide insights into the Hispanic vote in advance of the 2020 U.S. election.
While the political field for 2020 swells and the competition to engage with key audiences has already begun for candidates up and down the ballot, a genuine connection with the Hispanic community and thoughtful outreach in these voters’ native language are no longer optional, they are requirements for any campaign seeking to win this key audience and tip the scales in their favor.
Looking ahead, Hispanic voters are poised to gain even greater traction in key states such as California, Nevada and Texas as candidates look to replicate the success of those like Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who rejected the idea that language is a barrier to access and campaigned in a manner that won the trust — and ultimately the vote — of many of his Hispanic constituents. And it’s a strategy that can and deserves to be duplicated that is taking place nationwide.
L2’s data analysis showed that 2018 Hispanic voter registration across the country increased in record numbers, accounting for more than half of new voters in California, a third in Florida and New Jersey, and double-digit percent increases in Texas, Illinois, Nevada and New York.
Not surprisingly, the gains were most pronounced among the youngest Hispanics: Hispanic voters ages 18-34 outpaced their non-Latino counterparts by an average of 170 percentage points in Nevada, New York, Texas, Illinois, California, New Jersey and Florida. Given that many states across the country reported double- and triple-digit increases in Hispanic voter turnout numbers, Univision is leading the conversation about the importance of this demographic and how to best engage these majority makers in a meaningful way.
This is a pivotal moment for candidates, campaigns and advocacy groups. Hispanic voters made the crucial difference in many elections and these increases in turnout attest to the fact that our community is a vital source of support for any candidate or cause. To connect with this audience means those who wish to persuade us must rely on the brands Hispanics know and trust, and demonstrate a commitment to provide information that encourages us to continue our strong participation in the political process to make our voices heard. To approach Hispanic America in any other fashion minimizes the importance of these new majority makers and diminishes the value of this audience in the political process.
The road to 2020 is shaping up to be among the most competitive in memory and the urgency behind Hispanic voter engagement cannot be understated. The data tells a compelling narrative about the strength and influence of these voters and reinforces that Hispanic voters are an increasingly significant and influential demographic for political candidates and will serve as the catalyst for the 2020 election.
Kathy Whitlock is Univision’s vice president of strategy and insights.
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