WASHINGTON – World Cup soccer is "mas que un partido" — more than a game — to a group of Democrats. It's a chance to win over Hispanic voters.
The New Democrat Network is starting a $2 million Spanish-language campaign of radio and television ads urging Hispanics to get involved in the political process. The five-month effort begins with ads during the World Cup soccer games that begin this weekend in Germany.
Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, said the group wants to use a "major sport like soccer to brand Democrats for a wider audience."
The TV ad shows an empty soccer field as an announcer says: "For years now, we've been awaiting this moment. Our country is again ready to return to being the great nation that all of us always dreamed of. Get involved. It's up to you."
The ads will run on Univision, Telefutura, Fox Sports en Espanol and Futbol de Primera, the radio soccer network of well-known broadcaster Andres Cantor. Cantor — know for his trademark exclamation "GOOOOALLLLL!" — will be featured on an early radio ad.
The radio ad will air in 70 markets nationally and the television ad will focus on six states and nine major markets — Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo.; El Paso, Texas; Las Vegas; Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; and Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.
Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the United States. Rosenberg has focused much of his efforts on trying to build support for Democrats among a group that makes up about 14 percent of the U.S. population. The total of Hispanic registered voters is about half the percentage of Hispanics overall.
Strategists from the Democratic group suggested that the current immigration debate has motivated many eligible Hispanics to register to vote, making this year a critical time to connect with potential voters.
Democrats need an aggressive approach to keep their historic advantage among Hispanics, especially since President Bush got an estimated 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, Rosenberg said.