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Latino vote: Still a bargain in election 2012?

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For months, pundits on both the right and left have said Latino voters would determine the presidential election. It looks like they were right. Not only did President Barack Obama manage to win 71 percent of the Latino vote (second only to former President Bill Clinton’s historic 73 percent of the Latino vote in 1994), but in key battleground states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado where Latino voters make up between 15 and 18 percent of eligible voters, Obama secured super majorities of the Latino vote. In Florida, there’s a lively debate over whether the president managed to secure a majority of the traditionally Republican Cuban vote -- a historic victory if so. Most importantly for Obama, the Latino base grew this year: All the indicators pointed to record high voter turnout from Latino voters this year. Overall, 28 Latinos won House seats this election, creating the largest class of Latino U.S. lawmakers in history. In the Senate, Latinos gained a seat with the victory Republican Ted Cruz, the first Hispanic senator to be elected from Texas. But for such an indisputably important demographic group and an election that saw more than $1 billion in outside spending, it appears that relatively little money was spent to influence the Latino vote using TV ads -- the most common way many campaigns get their message out and attempt to sway voters. In a political ad analysis of ads purchased on Spanish-language TV stations located in key swing states, Free Press found that from April to September the Obama campaign and supporting organizations had spent only $7 million — or 9 percent — of their ad dollars on Spanish language ads, while the Romney campaign and its supporters had spent a paltry $3.2 million, or 4 percent of their total ad dollars. These figures are especially disproportionate when placed into the larger context of this election cycle as media analysts project that over $300 billion was spent on political ads.

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Influence Explored: Big Ag Lobbies Against Prop 37 in California

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A recent New York Times Magazine article by Michael Pollan highlights the potential momentum for a new “food movement” in America if California voters decide to enforce the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) foods by passing Proposition 37, the Genetically Engineered Foods Right to Know Act next month. Proposition 37 proposes to label all GMO foods, including processed foods that contain GMO ingredients, and to prevent GMO foods from being labeled or advertised as “natural.” Agriculture industry giants opposed to Prop 37 are pouring money into California to defeat the ballot measure. According to the California watchdog group, Maplight, agribusiness giants have already sunk $35.6 million into defeating the prop with agrochemical titans Monsanto and DuPont emerging as the top two proponents with contributions totalling $7.1 million and $4.9 million, respectively. The bulk of that money has gone to the committee, No on 37: Coalition Against the Deceptive Food Labeling Scheme, Sponsored by Farmers and Food Producers. Other agrochemical and agroscience institutions like BASF Plant Science, Syngenta Co., Bayer Cropscience and Dow Agrosciences LLC have each contributed $2 million to the cause. Meanwhile, advocacy and industry groups in support of Prop 37 have only managed to raise $7.7 million in support.

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