Securing the Latino Vote
with Chuck Rocha of Solidarity Strategies
Latinos are expected to be the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority in this year’s presidential electorate.
Chuck Rocha, president and founder of Solidarity Strategies shares the importance of the Latino vote and how both campaigns can successfully reach this community.
September 24, 2020
Anderson: Researchers are predicting record voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election. As the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate, Latinos are expected to be a major factor in the outcome. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Latino voter turnout in key battleground states could decide this year's presidential contest. And joining me to talk about the power of the Latino vote is Chuck Rocha. He is the president and founder of Solidarity Strategies. And, Chuck, thanks for joining us.
Rocha: Thanks, Tetiana. Thanks for having me.
Anderson: So, how big a deal is it really that Latinos are the largest minority to take part in this election? And what is it going to mean?
Rocha: If you're talking specifically about the presidential election, it's the single biggest factor in America. And let me explain. Because the Electoral College is much different than just your congressional or Senate races, and it's only really going to be important in six states. What's important about that is, three of those states are heavily populated by Latinos. And I'm talking about Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina.
Anderson: So we know that Latinos have a lot of power. We also know that both parties court their vote quite heavily. But you've said that both the Democrats and the Republicans sort of missed the mark because they've got preconceived notions of who these voters are. Unpack that a little bit for us.
Rocha: I've been doing this a long time. I've been doing this for 30 years. And I've seen one campaign after another make the same mistakes. The first mistake they make is, they adhere to an old adage, which is "Latinos don't vote." I proved once and for all in the work that we did for Bernie Sanders in the primary that if you will invest in the Latino community early and often and run a culturally competent campaign, Latinos will not only turn out -- They'll turn out in historic numbers. What people don't realize about the Latino vote is that we're not a monolith. We're very different. And we're 10 years younger than the average white voter. So we act much more like a young voter than an old voter. And most of these campaigns, Democrats and Republicans, spend all of their money and time when they spend any money at all talking to us via Spanish, via a Telemundo, via a Univision, which is very important, and you should do that, but you should do that coupled with a heavy digital presence. You should do that with other presence of new formats of programing, whether it's Peacock whether it's Hulu, whether it's whatever's out there of streaming services, because that's where younger Latinos, which is the average Latino, is actually consuming this information. We have to treat Latino voters as if they're persuadable white voters with the same investments the same nuances, and the same strategy if you actually want them to vote.
Anderson: So, Chuck, you just told us what both parties do wrong when it comes to approaching Latino voters. But why do they keep doing this? Is this a lack of education, or is this something else?
Rocha: It's because you have the same group of people who have been running these campaigns for a long time. And that's pretty synonymous on both sides of the aisle, Democrat and Republican. So what happens in these campaigns is, they're normally controlled, these large campaigns, these large Senate and presidential campaigns by a media consultant. That media consultant is normally putting together the overall strategy. And if you're the media consultant, you want the campaign to do what? Spend a lot of money on media, and media is still -- It's still the biggest form of communication. But because we've segmented out the way we consume information, we haven't changed with the times. And because those Latino voters are 10 years younger than the white voters, you have to go to where they are. You need to make sure that you're on the right social outfits as far as what social media does. So you need to change the nuance of the way that you're actually running these campaigns if you actually want to get to where Latinos are consuming information. We are not a monolith, as we always say. Second- and third-generation Latinos like me sometimes don't even speak English. And if they do, they don't speak very good English. So you have to figure out a way. It's really, really complicated. And the bottom line is, the campaigns never really have taken the time to understand how to segment out those populations to do it in the right ways.
Anderson: Cultural competency is what you're talking about. And I know you talk about that. Let's shift a little bit to trends when it comes to voters. And you basically wrote the playbook on how to approach Latino voters when you were with Bernie Sanders in 2016. What were some of the trends that you saw that led Latino voters to the polls? And how do you see that playing out in 2020?
Rocha: One thing is the issue set. A lot of people in political consulting or in campaigns think that Latinos only care about immigration when they care about healthcare, when they care about the coronavirus, when they care about jobs and the economy, healthcare. So what we did is talked to them very early, introduced Bernie Sanders to them. And then we talked about an issue set that aligned with where they were. And what it means by where they were is what they were telling us on phone calls, at the doors. And healthcare always bubbled to the top of that issue set. So we wanted to make sure that we were talking over and over again about what issues were going to help them. At the end of the day, Latinos want to know who you are, what do you stand for, and what are you going to do to help them, which is not that much different than a persuadable Anglo voter, but the difference in most campaigns is, they start talking, they being campaigns, to an Anglo voter six months prior to the election and wait till the last six weeks, if then, to talk to a Latino voter, and I would go as far to say, an African-American voter. There are misconceptions in politics that Latinos don't vote and that African-Americans are just a GOTV universe for the very end, just to get them out to vote. They're going to vote right. Those are wrong, and American politics is changing, especially with the younger demographic of African-Americans and with Latino voters. And we need to understand the nuances between that, if you want either one of these parties to grow with where that demographic shift is headed.
Anderson: Certainly a lot of changes happening. Chuck Rocha, thank you so much for joining us.
Rocha: Thank you.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers, as well, for watching. For more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, be sure to visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.