OPINION

Opinion: The GOP will cease to be a national party unless Latinos are engaged

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Wilmington, Ohio. The 2016 presidential election features two candidates with dramatically different approaches on immigration. In tone, Republican Donald Trump often highlights violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally with aggressive rhetoric that seizes on nationalism if not xenophobia. Democrat Hillary Clinton features a softer approach that embraces diversity and the value of keeping immigrant families together, even as her critics accuse her of promoting “open borders.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Wilmington, Ohio. The 2016 presidential election features two candidates with dramatically different approaches on immigration. In tone, Republican Donald Trump often highlights violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants in the country illegally with aggressive rhetoric that seizes on nationalism if not xenophobia. Democrat Hillary Clinton features a softer approach that embraces diversity and the value of keeping immigrant families together, even as her critics accuse her of promoting “open borders.” (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Bad hombres, nasty woman. Is there anything new Trump can possibly say to continue to alienate two key segments that could mark a winning difference on November 8? 

There is nothing more powerful than the power of data. And, as reported in the last few months by Fox News Latino and also on a segment on The O’Reilly Factor – and confirmed by traditional polls – the Trump sensation had been unshaken until now.

Research confirms that the use of Spanish is not necessarily to appeal or pander to a group that doesn’t speak English, but as a vehicle that drives better brand affinity, loyalty and trust. After all, us Latinos may speak in English but we still love in Spanish, and using the language is the best way to pull into the heartstring that move the core of who we are culturally.

- Lili Gil-Valletta, Allie George

Using CulturIntel™, a proprietary methodology using search, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, we mined over 319K Hispanic data points which report only a 14 percent positive opinion among Latinos, as compared to the 37 percent reported back in June.

This is a 23 percent decline in support for the Republican candidate in less than four months.

This gap can be accredited simply to one thing, not having a disciplined Hispanic outreach strategy, which was a winning factor to fellow Republicans during the midterm elections — in 2014, on-the-ground engagement, Spanish language advertising and a balanced platform helped Republicans capture the Hispanic vote successfully in key states like Colorado with Cory Gardner. 

During the midterm season through September of 2014, Univision and Cmag reported Republican investment in Spanish language media exceeded the Democrat’s, which had declined by 50 percent since 2012.

There are currently 27.3 million eligible Hispanic voters, a number that continues to grow as legal immigrants apply to become citizens in time to vote this year. An 80 percent increase in the number of Latino eligible voters since 2012 has helped make the U.S. electorate more diverse than ever. Their influence upon the direction of national politics, culture, economic trends, and a broad range of other issues will only increase. 

The New York Times reports that some of the biggest increases in applications this year came in battleground states, including a 30 percent increase in Colorado, a 40 percent increase in Florida, and a 53 percent increase in Nevada.

Over 50 percent of Latinos consider themselves political independents. These voters present a huge opportunity, as there are potent concentrations of these voters in Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and North Carolina, crucial battleground states.

Hillary Clinton has capitalized on this demographic by running Spanish-language ads on television and radio in key markets and reaching millennial voters through new media. The median age for Hispanics is 27 years, while the median age for the U.S. population is 37 years, making them by definition a millennial community.

The Clinton campaign has also hired Latino voter directors and organized children of undocumented immigrants and Hispanic women to inspire Hispanic voter engagement and encourage them to join the campaign. Comparatively, Trump has done very little to reach out to Hispanic voters. 

These choices are a distinct break with two decades of bipartisan tradition. Research confirms that the use of Spanish is not necessarily to appeal or pander to a group that doesn’t speak English, but as a vehicle that drives better brand affinity, loyalty and trust. After all, us Latinos may speak in English but we still love in Spanish, and using the language is the best way to pull into the heartstring that move the core of who we are culturally.

Unfortunately for Trump, his divisive tone and his emphasis on immigration prompted over half of the members of his Hispanic advisory council to step down. His pledge to build a militarized border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and plan to reverse Obama’s reprieve and place 11 million people into deportation proceedings were highly significant. 

Even if immigration is not the top issue for Hispanics, the tone is telling of the desire to respect, engage and build trust with the community. 

Also, a coalition of Hispanic Republicans was recently formalized during the morning of the last debate for conservative Latinos to reclaim their voice and demand the respect and voice the community ought to represent. In fact, the group underscores that the GOP will cease to be a national party unless Latinos are engaged. As the party prepared to face a potential third loss in 12 years, the same issues that hamstrung the GOP in 2008 remains, and have essentially grown stronger.

From September through November of 2016, Latino Decisions partnered with the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and Noticias Telemundo to publish the results of a weekly tracking poll. Currently, this weekly tracking poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump among Latinos 74 percent to 15 percent, a 59 percent gap. 

It is highly unlikely Trump can close the gap and win the election while ignoring the fastest growing segment of voters in the country and very far from George W. Bush’s 44 percent Hispanic support — a rapid decline which is counter to the growing importance of the changing face of America.

Lili Gil Valletta is an award-winning entrepreneur, multicultural marketing strategist, Fox News independent contributor and co-founder of XL Alliance. She is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and member of the Harvard Kennedy School Women's Leadership Board.

Allie George is a XL Alliance Marketing Coordinator.

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