I'm a political junkie. I watch the primary election returns with as much fervor as I watch the NFL playoff games. This year I find it even more intriguing than past years. I suppose that's partly because Denver is hosting the Democratic National Convention in August as well as the fact that a new chapter in American political history may be written by nominating either the first female or first African-American of a national party. History aside, I find the sport of politics has as much hard hitting action as that of any football matchup.
This past weekend was particularly interesting simply because it was the first set of primaries where both the African-American and Hispanic communities played a key role. I suspect that the South Carolina Democratic primary, next week, will also hinge on the same. There's no question that both of these voting blocs can yield a lot of influence in key states. For example, in Denver County the Hispanic community has now become the majority according to the Census Bureau. While I'm not an expert in political strategies I would think that candidates of both parties would see this as a crucial audience to woo.
Since the announcement early last year that Denver would play host to the DNC, IAL Services has aggressively sought opportunities, from both parties, to assist in bridging the language gap by providing document translation and / or interpreter services to all candidates. While we have never spoken directly with any candidate, we have had the opportunity to speak with some of their campaign staff. It's interesting to hear how they address the issues surrounding non-English communication. I wouldn't dare bring up names or specifics regarding any party or candidate but I can say that the two parties have polar strategies (and ideas) about the issue of courting, specifically, the Hispanic community. Perhaps the easiest way to get an idea of those strategies is by looking at some of the websites of the major candidates:
Hillary Clinton - On the main page there is a link (Pagina Bilingue) to her Spanish site which is fairly extensive and updated regularly. The main page is a collection of blog entries posted from America con Hillary. Extensive information on the candidate and the issues.
Barack Obama - Another attractive site with extensive links and information about the candidate in Spanish. One of the more impressive additions is "Barack TV en Espanol" which provides extensive video clips that are all subtitled in Spanish.
John Edwards - The Senator does have a Spanish website but it is a little more difficult to locate on the main page (bottom right). The link takes you to a single page document that outlines several of his positions as it relates to the Hispanic community. All other links and banners on the page are only in English.
Mitt Romney - Very impressive site that is all in Spanish. We were a little surprised that in the last couple of days they removed a welcome video that was done by his son, Craig, who seems to be extremely fluent in Spanish. No word from the campaign as to their decision to remove it. Perhaps it is still there but we were not able to find it as of this posting. The additional links on the page (also in Spanish) define his positions on various key issues.
John McCain - No Spanish site. We found this interesting particularly because of the independent attraction that he seems to have and the fact that he seemed to appear more sympathetic than some of his counterparts on the immigration issue. One may wonder if this is intentional as he tries to attract more of the Republican base.
Rudy Giuliani - Again, no Spanish site. Interesting since he is launching his first formidable fight in Florida where there is a large Hispanic population.
Mike Huckabee - No Spanish site.
I'm not sure if you can derive anything out of this other than there are some candidates that are aggressively trying to woo the Hispanic vote while others either don't see the value or, perhaps, are afraid of scaring their base.
One interesting note that happened late last year during my discussion with one of the candidate's staff members may shed some light on why a candidate chooses not to target the Hispanic community. During the course of my conversation he mentioned an incident that occurred in Florida regarding a car salesman who decided to run ads in Spanish on a local television station. While the commercial translated into an increase in car sales there was a lot of anger by some in the community. He simply told me that their campaign couldn't afford such a response in a critical state as Florida. I'll leave it for you to decide which candidate that might have been but, to understand his point better, we were able to locate a CNN clip that demonstrates his concerns. Click here to view.
In an event where every vote counts, it's fascinating to think of the strategies that must go on behind the scenes when determining who your "market" is.