With the 2010 election cycle past us pundits, journalists and politicos alike are analyzing what went right and wrong – at the top of the list is immigration. Republicans are still trying to figure out how to communicate their strong position on immigration without pissing off the Latino community.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders takes on the subject in “The Right GOP Immigration Package.” California Republicans lost a lot of ground during the last election cycle – not one member of the GOP was elected to a state-wide office. Some blame the dismal showing by California Republicans on how the candidates communicated on the issue of immigration. Saunders looks at how Republicans talk about immigration and still have a positive Hispanic outreach plan.  I had the pleasure of being interviewed for her article. Read more below.

“Pundits and GOP biggies have a tendency to focus only on the ways the Arizona controversy hurt the GOP, and not on the toll the issue took on Obama nationwide. Recently, veteran Republican strategist Rob Stutzman told Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton that GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman lost big primarily because the issue of illegal immigration drove Latino voters to support Democrat Jerry Brown. Stutzman blamed Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who lost in the primary to Whitman, for pushing Whitman too far to the right on immigration.

Lo siento. (That’s Spanish for “I’m sorry.”) Non credo. (That’s Latin for “horsepuckey.”)

Republican Rick Scott won the Florida governor’s race with as much as 50 percent of the Latino vote, and he supported the Arizona law.

Bettina Inclan was a spokesperson for Poizner before she worked for Scott. As the daughter of a Cuban mother and Mexican father, Inclan is quite aware of the hurdles Republicans face when trying to woo Latino votes. But, as Scott proved, it can be done.

Scott helped himself by not changing his position on immigration. Inclan noted, “He always gave the same message – and he talked about the issues that were really important to everyone in Florida, which is jobs.”

And: “When we try to cater instead of tailoring, I think that’s the problem.” Rather than pander, a candidate needs to speak in a tone that conveys respect and commonality – not (these are my terms) condescension and opportunism.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/12/22/ED6N1GTNDM.DTL#ixzz1B1BvVtaY

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Columnist Esther J. Cepeda wrote a great must-read article  –“Latino Republicans Get No Respect.” She makes critical and important points about the Latino community and the Republican Party. Among them:

  1. The Latino community is not monolithic. We Hispanics are a diverse group not to be taken for granted.
  2. Republicans are doing a very poor job of recruiting and empowering local activists.
  3. Republicans need to learn how to communicate their message (tailor not pander) to Latino audiences. NEVER use insensitive terms like “wetbacks,” and “anchor babies.” Discuss the MANY positive impacts of immigration, instead of always focusing on illegal immigration.

Most importantly Cepeda highlights the Latino activists working on a local level who are doing the lions share of the work of educating voters about the Republican agenda, many times with no help from the Party.

There is still a lot of misunderstanding about the diverse Latino community by non-Latinos. Hispanic voters differ by country of origin, geographic location, generation and phase of life. Yet, they all share some similar traits, like the need to be respected and included.

Cepeda writes:

Both Blase and Hernandez say the real difficulty is in getting people to look past the headlines and the rhetoric the Republicans have spouted about immigrants, especially Hispanic ones. “I think the party is failing on the message-delivery part,” Hernandez said. “Overall they need to be more sensitive. I don’t like to hear our leaders call the undocumented ‘illegals’ or talk about immigration issues with knee-jerk reactions or a police-type mentality like what you’re seeing in Arizona. That’s not going to attract a good, solid Latino following.”

Blase, who describes herself as living at “ground zero” of the illegal immigration debate, says she just can’t stand Arizona Republican leaders freely using terms like “wetbacks,” “anchor babies,” “illegals.”

The quote above highlights the need for candidates and politicians to tone down the negative and dirty rhetoric. Politicians do not need to change their policy, but they do need to tailor their message to their audience and avoid insensitive language.

As Congress finishes its lame duck session and the new members get ready for their swearing-in ceremony many are focused on the new “new Congress.”  Not the one taking over in January 2011, but the one that will be redesigned, state by state, because of apportionment. A new Congress that will hopefully include many more opportunities for Latino representation, given that Hispanics make up about 25% of America’s youth, according to preliminary census numbers.

As we were all reminded this year, apportionment is the constitutionally mandated system, which ensures everyone in America, is equally represented, and is the main purpose of the U.S. Census. Here is a great video explaining the process:

This week the U.S. Census released first-time ever demographic projections. The data showed that Hispanics under the age of 20 make up between 21.8% and 25% of the total youth population in the U.S.—a significant increase over the 17% calculations derived from the 2000 U.S. Census. The 2010 figures highlight the demographic impact of the largest “minority” group in the country.

If the Latino youth population had not been taken into account, the non-Hispanic youth population would have declined by between 1.25 and 2.9 million.

A new and first-ever survey by Pew Research on Twitter users states that Latinos love the micro-blogging site.  Apparently 18% of Hispanics use Twitter compared to 5% of white web users and 13% of black web users. The survey demonstrated that hablando in 140 characters or less was particularly popular with women, young adults, minorities, and those who live in cities. ( … Just saying I love to twitter and I am a”young” Latina living in a major American city..)

The UK’s Guardian published the findings and highlighted some interesting facts on Twitter users:

• Of the online population, 10% of women and 7% of men use Twitter.

• 14% of 18-29 year olds use Twitter compared to 7% of those aged 30-49.

• 18% of Hispanics use Twitter compared to 5% of white people and 13% of black web users.

• 11% of those in urban areas use Twitter compared to 5% in rural areas.

Here is a quick visual review of the Americano’s Hispanic Forum’s Gala….

note… pics taken with my iPhone

Yesterday, I was honored to take part on a panel discussion at the First Annual Americano’s Hispanic Forum in Washington D.C.  The two-day forum served as an opportunity for conservative Hispanics from across the country, and globe, to discuss issues important to the Latino community. Much of the talk was on how to expand the movement.

During my presentation I discussed the need to reform how conservatives implement Hispanic outreach and communication in order to create a long-term strategy. (I’ll post more on my presentation later.)

The Washington Post did a writeup of the Americano forum, which is a part of Gingrich Communications,  “Newt Gingrich wants conservatives to hablar espanol, or at least show they care about Latinos“:

“Nearly 60 speakers on more than a dozen panels will offer a largely conservative take on domestic and hemispheric affairs of interest to Latinos. The speakers include Jose Maria Aznar, the former Spanish prime minister; Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States; and Carlos Gutierrez, who served as commerce secretary during George W. Bush‘s second term in the White House.

Topics for discussion include: “Why Hispanics are Natural Conservatives” and “Hispanics and the American Experiment.” A gala awards dinner Thursday will follow a concert by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

This wonkish fiesta is not necessarily designed to boost a potential presidential campaign, says Gingrich, who has not yet made a decision on whether he will run in 2012. But it couldn’t hurt. “There’s a substantial number of Latinos now in Iowa,” he says.

He adds, “You can’t have a major party that doesn’t pay substantial attention to the most rapidly growing single part of the country.”

In House races last month, 60 percent of Latinos voted for Democrats. Republicans, however, boast of electing GOP Latinos to the Senate from Florida, to governorships in Nevada and New Mexico, and to several House seats…”

In the last few years Newt Gingrich has become a leader within Republican circles on how to communicate to Latinos. While he has had his ups and downs with the Hispanic community,  his outreach efforts throughout the last few years towards the Hispanic community have proven to be forward thinking and show a real respect for Latinos and their culture. I was happy to be part of the forum and look forward to more opportunities in the future…