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Clegg: Program (not) available in Spanish

BY CHRIS CLEGG | JANUARY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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With the GOP releasing its TV schedule for the 2016 presidential debates on Jan. 16, there were no immediate surprises when seeing the usual titans of TV that are to be used in broadcasting the Republican agenda across the nation. While big players such as Fox News, CNN, and ABC News all made the cut, Univision, the largest Latino-based network in the United Sates, failed to do so.

Not including Univision as a medium of presentation could come back to haunt the GOP when you take a look at the statistics showing the growing influence of the Latino electorate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a record-breaking 11.2 million Latinos voted in the 2012 election, and more than 23 million were eligible. Additionally, according to the same source, by 2060, Latinos will account for 1 out of every 3 Americans, a massive increase of the current number, which stands at 1 of 6.

Even though the 11.2 million Latino votes are a small fraction of the 129 million-plus that were cast, it is noteworthy to look at where a bulk of these Latinos reside. The Pew Research Center released a report in August 2013 that mapped where the most concentrated areas of Latinos are, and it concluded that the three states containing the majority of the Latino population are California, Texas, and Florida. So, not only are Latino voters becoming more prevalent throughout the electorate as a whole, they have the largest effect in the three most important states as far as the Electoral College is concerned.

While the Republicans haven’t completely ignored Latino voters (they will air one debate on Telemundo), their acknowledgment seems to be disproportional with the gravity of the situation. Latinos are quickly becoming one of most important ethnic groups when it comes to sending people to the polls, lagging behind only white and African-American voters. While certain politicians such as Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban ancestry, have shown initiative acknowledging the importance of this emerging demographic, more presidential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, should make attempts to try to secure these pivotal votes. Perhaps the first step of this process is to share more than one of the debates on a network that feeds into more than 90 million Latino-American homes.

The growing Latino electorate is not something that should be avoided by either party but rather embraced and taken advantage of. Much like Obama’s extreme success with African-American voters in 2012 and 2008, there is no reason candidate X can’t ride her or his way to the Oval Office on the backbone of the Latino vote.

Both parties should actively be trying to reach out to the Latino electorate because this particular group could end up being the difference in the 2016 election. As we dive deeper into the 21st century, parties and politicians need to familiarize themselves with topics such as these that are becoming too big to sweep under the rug. Providing presidential debates to such networks as Univision and Telemundo don’t solely benefit a certain demographic, but it allows millions of people to become aware of information that otherwise they may not have had access to — an essential element in a productive democracy.


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