Features

May/June 2012 The Anchor

Forget Rachel, Bill, Anderson, and Sean. The broadcaster who will most determine the 2012 elections is Jorge Ramos.

By Laura M. Colarusso

Here, too, a major force pushing against the GOP’s plan is Univision. For the past six years, the company has run a program with a handful of other national Hispanic organizations called Ya Es Hora (It Is Time) to encourage Latinos to become citizens and to register to vote. Voter-registration rates among Hispanics are already down this year, in part because Latinos tend to vote for Democrats, who aren’t holding a contested presidential primary. And there are signs that apathy is taking root within the Latino community in light of the economy and the lack of forward momentum on immigration reform. In all, there are 8 million unregistered Latino citizens, and Univision is planning a major campaign that will include town halls, public service announcements, and local events designed to motivate them to get involved. Their operation promises to be as sophisticated as that of either political party. “We have to find a way of convincing [Latinos] that their vote counts,” Salinas says. “We’re going to do it by showing them, county by county, state by state, in the cities where their vote would have made a difference if they had registered.”

Another option for the GOP is, of course, for the party’s presidential nominee to choose a Hispanic running mate. And the name most often floated is Marco Rubio. Whether Rubio is the savior many in the party think he is remains to be seen. On the one hand, he is a fresh face and an effective speaker with strong conservative positions that also make him a favorite with the Tea Party base. On the other hand, he has some baggage, including a history of making false claims about his parents having left Cuba as political refugees (they came to the United States before Castro took power) as well as a record of opposition to the DREAM Act and other immigration-reform efforts. Some polls have shown that a quarter of the Hispanic electorate would consider voting for the GOP ticket if Rubio is the vice presidential candidate. Other polls suggest that he would draw few Latinos, or could even hurt the ticket.

Cognizant of his, and his party’s, weakness on immigration, Rubio is working on a compromise version of the DREAM Act with other Republican senators. If such legislation can get a hearing or even pass with bipartisan support this summer or fall, it could conceivably soften Latino voters’ attitudes about the GOP. The problem for Rubio is that any bill that opens the door even slightly for undocumented immigrants to become legal is liable to stir up the conservative base. And at the same time, a legalization option that is too narrow will be unlikely to impress many Latino voters, and certainly won’t draw the support of many Democratic lawmakers.

One thing’s for sure: between now and November, the venue where these issues will be discussed in the greatest detail, in front of the audience that matters most, is Univision. Which means, among other things, that at some point Rubio will have to face Ramos. “I’ll keep on calling him,” Ramos says. “That’s what I keep on doing with the pope, and that’s what I keep on doing with Marco Rubio.” It also means something else. As in any election year, pundits and political professionals are sure to spend countless hours in the coming months watching outlets like Fox, MSNBC, and CNN with a keen eye toward how their coverage might influence the outcome. But this year, the network most likely to actually have that effect is one that barely any of them watch, and that speaks a language few of them understand.

Laura M. Colarusso is a reporter at Newsweek and the Daily Beast. She has previously reported for the Boston Globe, New Jersey Monthly , and the Newark Star-Ledger.

Comments

  • Mikhail on May 08, 2012 8:38 AM:

    Impressive article, and I greatly enjoyed it. It's nice to learn something new about the socio-political landscape.

  • Peter on May 09, 2012 10:38 PM:

    Very interesting article. The Latino vote will clearly have a major impact on the 2012 Presidential election particularly in the swing states. Unless, of course, the Republicans success in disenfranchising too many Latinos.

  • Oilime on May 12, 2012 10:42 AM:

    This story falls for the two most predominant fallacies about Hispanics/Latinos in the United States.

    1. Hispanics are homogeneous. They're not, it's a very fractured ethnicity among races, nationalities, geographies and generations. A good example is how an older Cuban from New Jersey would vote as opposed to a compatriot in Miami.

    2. Univision is perfect to cater to Hispanics/Latinos. As a former employee, I can tell you the stats are quite underwhelming. There's a strong correlation between lack of integration and low income levels and Univision viewers. Those Hispanics/Latinos with a higher income and who are more integrated and will not watch Jorge Ramos.

  • NiKolas Garza on May 12, 2012 6:50 PM:

    Ramos is an excellent Journalist. His only sin is that he strongly supports Corrupted PRI's Candidate Enrique Pe├▒a Nieto "@EPN" in the coming Mexican Presidential Elections in July. Right @joregarmosnews?

  • Rosalba Martinez on May 24, 2012 4:12 PM:

    You are right Oilime, on your two points that you mentioned. Univision now shares something in common$$ with Televisa, Televisa put money on Univision, on an interview by Carmen Aritegui to Jorge Ramos, he could not even express an authentic thought.He is not what he was at some point. The Hispanic with education in USA do not watch his crap. he is a cheap tv show!

  • 2schultz on May 24, 2012 4:21 PM:

    here is what is happening in Mexico and he does not even mention anything about it. He is supporting a EPN. this is a little part of the letter from students #132 movement in Mexico. I would say he helps manipulates the media and info.
    Mexican affairs do not start and end in bloodshed, massacres, beheadings and drug related violence. Despite the fact that it is a significant and chilling phenomenon, last week Mexican people, especially university students gave the world a lot to talk aboutů however it seems international press is not paying attention.
    Again the national media covered the story, reducing considerably the numbers that attended and implying it might have been fostered by other parties running for elections. But the students are awake and united; all other major universities have joined the cause, as well as other members of the community demanding change. They hope to provide accurate information for voters on the elections and more than anything to try to make history. They want to challenge the powers that have kept Mexico stagnant: one of them is the media.
    and obvoulsly Jorge Ramos too

  • Bill Carrothers on May 30, 2012 10:30 AM:

    Laura M. Colarusso must be stone-cold ignorant of what happened to John McCain in the 2008 election. Nicknamed "Juan" McCain by those of us who were disgusted by his blatant Hispandering in supporting the "Just hand the Keys to this Nation to anybody who walked across the border or over-stayed their Visa Bill", (aka "True Immigration Reform"), he was resoundingly trumped in the contest for Latino votes by a whopping 35 percentage points. His enraged cursing of the incompetent advisers of his who claimed that sucking up to the "Nation of Immigrants" (rather than Nation of Americans) crowd would gain him anything other than contempt and scorn is still echoing in Arizona today.

    As for Jorge Ramos, I think the reason that I have never heard of him is that, when I watch Univision, I switch channels as soon as those magnificent cleavages and gorgeous legs of the soap-opera stars disappear. With such awesome distractions, how do Latinos manage to get so much work done?

  • Gil Jimenez on May 30, 2012 4:52 PM:

    No comment for now. Later

  • SouthAmerican on July 09, 2012 12:47 PM:

    I agree 100% with you, Oilime on May 12, 2012 10:42 AM:,
    Jorge Ramos is a bad journalist. Completely sold by the illegal immigration agenda. I don't listen to his cheap crap.