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Latino Vote Sprang From Local Touch

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Latino voters helped re-elect Reid in 2010, and his strategy helped inform Obama for America’s outreach efforts in 2012.

Many of the DJs did not necessarily discuss politics on their shows and had never been contacted by a political campaign. “They didn’t understand their worth because they didn’t know that they are the only people that these folks are listening to in these states,” Domenzain said, adding that Mitt Romney’s campaign didn’t provide the same access.

Helen Aguirre Ferre, who hosts a daily national radio talk show on Univision America, said she was disappointed in the GOP presidential campaign.

Aguirre Ferre, who describes herself as right of center politically, interviewed Romney but was denied a request to interview GOP vice presidential nominee Paul D. Ryan because the campaign said he didn’t do “specialty media.” Aguirre Ferre added that she felt the campaign was misguided to pigeonhole Latino media.

“I said to myself, ‘Holy cow, you need Hispanic voters, and you are not going to get them this way,’” Aguirre Ferre said.

Aguirre Ferre was also part of Reid’s 2010 Latino media strategy. While primarily focused on Nevada, Reid’s campaign — through Parra — contacted Aguirre Ferre’s local Miami show in an effort to continue a dialogue with Latinos in the Sunshine State.

“I was doing something that was local, which was something that really made Jose’s initiative really stand out, because they were laying the framework and the groundwork for something further out,” Aguirre Ferre said.

Domenzain’s 2012 efforts allowed the campaign to tailor its message and messengers to Latinos and segments within the community — down to ancestral country of origin. The outreach also dovetailed well with the highly digital strategy the Obama campaign pioneered in 2008.

“This was the most comprehensive and engaged Hispanic campaign in the history of presidential politics, to the great credit of the Obama campaign leadership,” said Fernand Amandi, managing partner of Miami-based polling firm Bendixen & Amandi International, which worked on the campaign.

“They understood early in the process  . . .  in the aftermath of the 2008 results that the Latino vote was going to be an important segment of their coalition for winning re-election,” Amandi continued. “I think what you saw in this effort was a recognition of that by a commitment to resources and prioritizing the role that this vote would play.”

Obama won 48 percent of the Cuban vote, which is typically considered to be part of the Republican bloc in Florida. “That is a historic high, a potentially transformational development,” Amandi said. His firm is responsible for securing the endorsement of Miami-based TV talk show host Cristina Saralegui, often referred to as the “Hispanic Oprah.”

“I think it is a model that you will see, and not just in presidential campaigns that follow into the future,” Amandi said.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that a June policy came by executive order. The policy was a Department of Homeland Security directive, or executive action.

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