Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→
Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.
This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.
Gone are the days of “the great tamale incident” when on a campaign visit to San Antonio President Gerald Ford bit into a tamale, husk and all. Today’s candidates are not only wise to the nuances of Latin cuisine but to broader Latino cultural knowledge, such as Cinco de Mayo not being Mexico’s Independence Day. The candidates get it, or at least they have aides that do. But do Latinos really care?
The 2000 presidential election was the first time there was a large-scale Latino political outreach effort. Together the RNC and the DNC spent over $10 million courting the Latino vote through culturally targeted advertisements, surrogate outreach, and in the case of George W. Bush offering up his Spanish language skills. President Bush’s Spanish wasn’t much better than a freshman in Spanish 101, but with his pigeon Spanish he highlighted to the Latino community that he had a history of successfully working with Latinos as Governor of Texas and that he believed in the need for comprehensive immigration reform. In the end, President Bush was successful in courting the most Latino voters of any Republican presidential candidate in both 2000 and 2004.
In 2008 Barack Obama outdid his predecessor’s Latino campaign outreach in both style and substance. He not only signaled his support of immigration reform, he promised to have it passed in the first year of his administration. He also one-upped President Bush in being the first candidate to do a 30 second ad spot all in Spanish. Barack Obama made sure that his substantive policy messages to the Latino community were not lost in translation and this paid off in his garnering close to 70 percent of the Latino vote. (more…)