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Democrats launch 'historic' seven-figure media effort targeting Latinos

Democrats say the investment aimed at Hispanic voters comes earlier than in past midterm election cycles and involves a "robust" amount of money.
Coronavirus Pandemic 2020 Presidential Election Nevada
Biden/Harris supporters rally on horseback in Las Vegas on Oct. 24, 2020.Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Democrats are making a seven-figure investment to reach Latino voters ahead of the midterm elections, which they are touting as a "historic" early expenditure.

The Democratic National Committee is launching a paid media campaign of radio and print advertisements in English and Spanish in Latino-rich states. The ads are part of a Latino initiative the committee dubbed Adelante, which translates to “forward.”

The party announced the spending first to NBC News.

The ads are to run in Texas, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Parties rarely divulge exact spending for competitive reasons.

“The DNC has never done this, this early on and this robust of a figure for investment in Latino messaging and Latino outreach during a midterm election,” Maria Cardona, a consultant to the committee, said.

She said the spending was “presidential level” for spending on Latinos.

Democrats got a national shock in the 2020 presidential election from Latinos who voted at higher percentages for Republicans than in other years.

Joe Biden was elected president with a majority of Latino voters, but his approval ratings among Latinos have slid as inflation has raised the prices of gasoline, food, housing and other basics.

The committee’s ads will promote the accomplishments of the Biden administration, with the party hoping Latinos struggling with the rising costs will see the administration as helping ease the hard times.

The first print and radio ads, in Spanish, promote Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’ support for and Biden’s signing of the American Rescue Plan during the pandemic “when it was needed most,” the creation of 7.9 million jobs, vaccination of 200 million people, and the passage and the signing of the bipartisan infrastructure law, and the money and jobs attached to it.

“Let’s go forward. Unite, participate and support Democrats,” the ads state.

Newsweek reported last week that two weeks after Biden’s election, Democrats held a Zoom meeting with Latino operatives to pick apart why the party lost some of its share of a usually reliable Latino electorate, and to change things in 2022.  

“We’re seeing there’s an urgency for the Democratic Party because we are seeing Latinos move away from us. That was clear in 2020 and there were early meetings and post-election analysis and conversations to make sure that we can do more and we can do better,” Alicia Sisneros, a Democratic consultant who was among those at the meeting, told NBC News.

Sisneros said past election cycles have shown repeatedly that “the sooner we start talking to communities, especially communities of color, the more likely we are to move them to the Democratic Party and they are to support our candidate.”

'We need to invest earlier'

Democrats have said their 2020 campaigning was hampered by the pandemic, since they didn't do the usual door-to-door campaigning and big rallies and gatherings to avoid spreading the virus, while Republicans continued those election activities.

Michelle Villegas Tapia, DNC Latino Coalitions director, said Democrats want to invest in places where Latinos need more resources and where Democrats need to have a bigger presence.

“The ad buy is a big show of that in saying we need to invest earlier; we need to invest in places like Pennsylvania and the suburbs of Philadelphia and speak directly to the Puerto Rican community there, for example. That’s something happening in this ad buy.”

Republicans have opened field offices that they refer to as “community centers” in areas with high Latino populations and also are focusing on registering voters in different venues, including gas stations. They are targeting Latinos in Senate races.

“I think we are doing better than ever before, not only is Biden underwater in all polls we’ve received, we’ve also noticed Latinos are accepting our message of freedom and opportunities,” said Jaime Florez, the Republican National Committee's Hispanic communications director.

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