Feet in 2 Worlds on WNYC Radio: Obama and McCain aggressively court Latino voters

“Millions of Latino voters…are being targeted like never before on the Web, in radio, television and print. Campaigns are hiring strategists, media consultants and recruiting Latinos for the ground war.”

Eleven million Latinos are expected to vote in this year’s presidential election (60% more than in the 2004 elections), and 3 million of them are young voters.

Many media outlets have focused on the emerging Latino vote; but most news coverage has lumped Latino voters of all ages and types together into one category.

In her radio feature that aired on August 18 on WNYC in New York, Feet in 2 Worlds journalist Martina Guzmán examines how the Presidential campaigns are increasingly tailoring their outreach to subsets of Latino voters: a large and diverse electorate that has displayed a spectrum of responses to the candidates’ multi-million dollar ad campaigns.

The Obama campaign has been heavily targeting young Latinos through social networking sites like MiGente – the Latino equivalent of FaceBook. One of the most popular links is a to a video called Podemos Con Obama.  According to the William C. Velasquez institute, 50 thousand young eligible Latinos turn 18 every month, and from 2000 to 2004 Latino youth turnout increased by 13 percent.

Although the numbers are high, some consultants argue that the youth vote is unreliable. “This country is changing and young Latino voters are very excited but historically we don’t know if they turnout,” said Republican strategists Leslie Sanchez. Meanwhile the McCain campaign is reaching out to other segments of the Hispanic community such as Latino military families. They are running a television ad called God’s Children in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. That ad pays homage to Latino veterans and soldiers who are currently fighting in Iraq.

Guzmán reports on how the presidential candidates are crafting sophisticated messaging toward Latinos in the 2008 presidential election. Her story aired this morning during Morning Edition on WNYC, New York Public Radio. Click here to listen online.

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