The Quagmire of Minority Voter Engagement

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This election cycle is a numbers game without any logic; a quagmire of quagmires. 

The CNN Democratic debates were the most watched, with over 15 million viewers. There was not a lot of “debating” per say, but the candidates were articulate, respectful and even addressed some relevant issues.   A bit different than the circus-like Republican debates.   Will these 15 million viewers actually vote? 

Take Trump, who is balancing his sensationalized commentary and unfiltered behavior with his business success, and has alienated an entire population- Wait, I just refreshed my Twitter feed, he has now offended a couple of other groups.  Yet he remains the leading Republican candidate…   He is extremely well-funded, and as such, will most likely advance to the primaries. 

Unlike her campaign in 2008, Hillary Clinton is emphasizing the unique perspective of being a woman.  She’s actively courting and raising a lot of money, which isn’t abnormal.  The anomaly stems from the allocation of funders:  52.6% of her funds come from women, per a recent study from Crowdpac.  

Yet, women contribute less than men, and in smaller amount than men. 

More women vote than men, yet women lag way behind as a percentage of political campaign contributors, about 30 percent.  And in an election cycle costing billions (billions with a “b”) this is a gender gap in political influence.   

The estimated gap in overall fund-raising is even larger, about 76 cents on the dollar come from a man and 24 cents from a woman when measuring contributions flowing into congressional campaigns. 

This allocation determines access and political influence to potential future leaders; access that is severely restricted to women and minorities, event before the leader has been elected. Participating in the political system through financial contributions of candidates is tool to further advance access and advocacy.   Simply put, without putting our money where our mouths are, our issues are not championed. 

With women earning less than men, it’s rather evident what causes the disparity in contributions- But wage and wealth inequality are not the sole culprit of minimized political participation, consider inherent values and philanthropic choices.  Women are more likely to donate to charitable causes vs a political campaign.   

Similarly, Hispanics are yet to wield their political clout effectively despite powerful numbers.  With 57 million Hispanics and 3.2 million businesses nationally, voter engagement is still a mystery. The diversity of the Hispanic voter, including the differences in nationalities, culture and customs, make a “one-size fits all” strategy ineffective.   

Our cultural competence and communications training fills the void in organizations struggling with reduced productivity tied to employee engagement- and it is geared not just for foreigners or immigrants.  The tools and resources are effective across the race and gender spectrum; actually relevant for all.  And I’m thinking we need to implement similar training, almost a movement-like for women and minorities.  Let’s call it: “The Power of Your Vote”! 

Déjà vu. 

“Get out the vote” and “Voto Latino” are already a thing.   

It appears we have the grass-root vehicles, and even the celebrity spokespeople- where we fail is the actual engagement and effective message delivery. Policymakers and political candidates should consider these questions: 

  • How to ensure Latinos and Women take ownership of their power and influence? 
  • How to get Latinos to make and increase campaign contributions? To realize that this an investment into future advocacy and policymaking? 

Answer: Develop an engagement strategy centered on consistent and sustained resonating messaging via relevant mediums.   

Senator Ted Cruz was the first candidate, either Republican or Democrat, to agree to a Q&A with the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  He has also introduced very innovative technology to engage younger voters: The Cruz Crew App, a video-based app that serves as a fund and friend raiser platform.  Leveraging social media and technology is a very effective tactic to connect with not only millennials, but also Latinos; particularly since these voters are not consuming news and content through traditional channels. 

Latinos, and other minorities have arrived to this political dance a little late, we are still learning the rules and whether there’s any real impact to our involvement.  Political representation defined by diverse elected officials, campaigns and contributions, are legitimate tools for advocacy and policy making that are not leverage by minorities and women.   

The key is converting a higher portion of these minority populations into active and engaged political participants.  Certainly not an easy feat, but a challenge that shall make 2016 a very interesting election year. 

Get involved, Amigos, use your voice and vote. 

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