Las Vegas Sun

January 25, 2015

Currently: 50° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Ad discouraging Hispanics from voting may backfire on Republicans

Sharron Angle

Sharron Angle

The message behind a short-lived but highly publicized ad was clear: Latinos, stay home.

Voter suppression isn’t usually marketed as voter empowerment. But in the ad by Latinos for Reform, an independent campaigning group led by career conservative Robert de Posada, the paradox was presented as plain sense: Because the Democrats haven’t delivered on immigration, exercise your right to vote by not doing so.

It’s advice that, if followed in Nevada, would all but assuredly play to the benefit of the GOP, which has seen Hispanics move away from the Republican Party as they grow in the state electorate.

But the fever-pitch backlash to this advertisement suggests the message could bring about just the opposite effect, by energizing a Hispanic voting bloc that may have been lethargic with a new and compelling reason to get out and vote — by and large, for Democrats.

From the 2004 to 2008 elections, Hispanics grew in force from 8 percent of the electorate to 12 to 15 percent, depending on the exit poll — roughly equal to President Barack Obama’s margin of victory. Obama carried 76 percent of the Nevada Hispanic vote in 2008.

Electorate growth rates among Hispanics have slowed since. But what hasn’t is their overwhelming enthusiasm for Democrats.

“Hispanics are much more likely to view congressional Democrats favorably than other groups,” said John Tuman, chairman of UNLV’s political science department who also teaches in the Latin American studies department. According to a recent study by UNLV and the Brookings Mountain West think tank, “it’s only among Hispanics in any Mountain West state that you see Democrats having an overall net favorability ranking,” Tuman said.

The challenge for the party’s candidates, however, has been tapping into that.

Across the country, studies have been documenting an “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats that is particularly rife among Hispanic populations, largely because of the frustrations de Posada’s commercial attempts to exploit.

Democrats have not delivered on immigration reform — or even attempted to tackle a bill, as Obama promised lawmakers he would do in the first year of his presidency.

Although immigration may not be the No. 1 issue for Hispanic voters, it is the one that appears to cut across the board for them: If a candidate is wrong on immigration, it’s difficult to excuse, even if everything else is right.

That may be part of the reason ads addressing the immigration issue have not implored Hispanics to vote for Republicans, who more commonly adopt a pro-enforcement stance on immigration.

But in the nadir of a midterm season — turnout during midterms is historically much lower than in presidential election years — many are concerned that even the “don’t vote” message could be detrimental.

“It can have a radiating effect,” said Yvette Williams, chairwoman of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus. In past elections, blacks have been the targets of similar efforts to suppress the vote, although “never as blatant” as the current message being directed at Hispanics, Williams said.

Univision refused to air the commercial on its television station and pulled the ad from its radio broadcast shortly after it debuted.

“When you see that kind of an ad, you might say, ‘Well they’ve got a point there, I shouldn’t go vote either.’ That kind of a message is just detrimental to our democracy,” she said. “We understand, having gone through this in generation after generation … that it doesn’t serve anyone to not vote. Even if you have an issue with someone, even if they’re not pushing your agenda as they should be, not voting isn’t an option.”

But getting that message out to voters isn’t easy, especially when you have to motivate them to begin with.

Hispanic voters are a chief focus for Democrats in Nevada, but in 2010, they’re working with a far more limited capacity than they were in 2008. Although get-out-the-vote ground organizations established before and during the 2008 election season remain, they aren’t as well-staffed nor is the electorate as attentive to the local races.

“It’s one thing to have a phone bank to reach out to Latino voters, but it’s another to have the volunteers speaking Spanish to do canvassing,” said Jennifer Lopez, state director of Organizing for America — the Democratic National Committee’s on-the-ground campaigning organization. “But our most effective leaders are our local community leaders … the enthusiasm is there. These people are 110 percent committed to the cause.”

And there is the question of finding a compelling message. “The morale is lower,” said Fernando Romero, head of Hispanics in Politics, a nonpartisan organization engaged in voter mobilization efforts in Las Vegas. “And some question, ‘Is our vote worth it?’ But apparently they must think our vote is worth it, because they keep bringing it up.”

On the Republican side, there are few Hispanics drumming up community-focused voter mobilization efforts, and only one candidate for statewide office has denounced the Latinos for Reform ads: Hispanic gubernatorial hopeful Brian Sandoval.

Although the state GOP and its prime candidate, Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle, say they encourage Hispanics, like all Nevadans, to vote and to vote Republican, they have dodged when asked to formally denounce the substance of the ads urging Hispanics to sit the election out.

Angle has aired ads that many find objectionable on racial lines. Her advertisement featuring a picture of menacing-looking Mexicans she labeled as “illegal aliens” has been pulled from the air because of copyright issues, but thrives as a point of contention around her campaign, especially after she commented to Rancho High School students who asked about the advertisement that she wasn’t sure whether the faces featured were Latino or Asian.

Many politicians are worried that the current racial climate, highlighted through such ads, could bring about a permanent setback in the past several years’ efforts to increase civic participation by Hispanics.

“It’s not only about this election, but the signal it sends is disastrous for this democracy,” said Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley, whose Las Vegas-based congressional district has the highest concentration of Hispanics in the state at 34 percent. “I’m hoping the Hispanic community is not fooled by this.”

But in the end, experts say, the advertisement may turn out to be a perverse and unwelcome gift for Hispanics — and Democrats — in 2010.

“There is a sense that people are very upset about this, and it may actually provoke a backlash. It’s an accumulation of things — the (Angle) ads that were being run, the comments Angle made at Rancho High School, and this is just adding to that,” Tuman said. “It may end up motivating people to go vote who may have been sitting on the fence.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 25 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Comment removed by moderator. Off-focus to the story.

  2. Since the primaries, the Republicans have been hell-bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
    It's been a long, arduous journey, my right-wing friends, but you have persevered!
    For the remaining, unafflicted few, who have steadfastly refused to be ALIENATED by the Neo-Nut hate-speak & dirty, lowdown trickery of the Angles and hecks and all their various hate groups and outside meddlers with money from God-knows-where, you must finish this in the grandest of fashion; When you head for the polls, repeat this mantra;

    "I am about to cut off my nose to spite my face, and I do so willingly without fear & trepidation, because it will SERVE me RIGHT!!!"

  3. Note the leftists: opposed to free speech! You don't like the ad? Go out & vote. Nobody is denying you that right. However, those on the left, given the power, would stifle the right of free speech of anyone who disagrees with their disagreeable agenda of taking our liberties - one at a time. As for dipstick, an apt title, he wouldn't know a Nazi from a "Progressive" if it bit him on the behind!

  4. "It's Harry Reid's fault!"

    Hardy, Har, Har.

    Are Republicans INCAPABLE of accepting ANY responsibility, FOR ANYTHING???


  5. As usual, the tea-nut trolls are trying to change the subject. They know good Latin@ turnout means Sharrontology is a goner, so their ONLY hope is in getting people NOT to vote. I hope this backfires and backfires on them BIG this weekend.

  6. Barrett:
    {{Harry Reid paid to have this trash put out, just like the rest of his ads that are put together by his campaign advisers. All lies. Take all the lies away from Harry's campaign and he's got nothing.}}
    Yeah, sure he did -- just like he forced Sharron Angle to go to Rancho High School and stick both her feet in her mouth two weeks out from the election.

  7. A stupid self defeating tactic by an idiot. The dip-squats like this that think America is about tactics first and real issues second deserve to be locked up for their interference in the political process. No matter what party they claim to represent.

    That's what wrong with Washington and career politicians like Reid and Boehner. They survive on tactics, not issues.

    Another reason for a constitutional amendment setting term limits. Return the government to the people by trying to encourage citizen legislators and not career politicians and bureaucrats.

    If all who were elected had to make a living outside of politics before (and in some cases academia) and return to being responsible for their own lives and fortunes after elected office, things would be vastly different.

  8. This ad has already backfired.

    I am very sure that the Latino voters here in Nevada see all the xenophobic rhetoric started by the State Government in Arizona, and echoed by right wing Republicans nationally...illegal aliens are criminal invaders, anchor babies, terror babies, blah blah blah...all of this blatant bias is OWNED by the Republican Party. The Democrats in power have done their best to address this issue, but are being blocked by Republicans. And even when they beef up the border, the Republicans say they aren't doing enough. And then when the Democrats in the Senate introduce a bill to try to fix portions of this problem, they are blocked by Republicans and then say it's their fault.

    This has all somehow bled over into Nevada. And the Latinos are stuck in the middle of this. And even those who have half a brain can see they stand no chance with Republican hate.

    Another reason why this ad has backfired is one simple reason. When you tell someone to do something, and you give some flimsy excuse like your vote is not going to matter and it's not going to change things, when EVERYONE can see the incredible stupidity of that reason...those people you told that to can see through it. And they are going to do the opposite. Because they know that message was flawed and had an ulterior motive.

    You will see Hispanic Nevada voters go in droves to the voting booths. And they are going to have fire in their eyes. Especially after being demonized for the past year, de-humanized and made to feel the Republican Party is telling them the American dream is for everyone...but not them and that they are nothing. They will not be stopped. And when they show up to vote, the Republicans are not going to like how they cast their votes. Because they have listened to crap from them for far too long now.

    It's like an old blues song by Buddy Guy...

    "It's your time now, baby....
    But I have a feeling it's going to be my time after awhile."

    It's their time now. Hispanic voters. They WILL flex their muscle.

    The Republicans and their dirty tricks and xenophobia and racial prejudice are out in the open.

    And this strategy unwittingly awoken a sleeping giant. It's their time after awhile now.

    And after it's over, don't be surprised there are no Republicans left in power in Nevada.

  9. After Sheriff Joe stepped up for Mrs. Angle the mexicans are going to come out in masses to make sure she is not elected.

    That was another dumb move on her part to get his support. They don't want anyone in office that has the support of Sheriff Joe. ;-)

  10. I just did, pmontg53. In my comment before yours.

    Sharron Angle totally, completely and utterly grasps all the points I mentioned. She toes the Republican Party line and wholeheartedly participates in all their policies regarding this problem. In other words, she will gladly only make the problem worse, promoting even more racial hatred and xenophobia. And, judging from her remarks to a class full of teenage Hispanic American students at Rancho High School recently, she shows either racial bias...or she just pleads ignorance of the issue...or she just don't care...and she clearly places no emphasis on the feelings of evidenced by her comments.

    If she gets elected in, she will gladly supplement John McCain from Arizona and chime in with the same rhetoric.

    And if you look at Sharron Angle's past State Government record, she has a history of arguing things to death, voting no, and just generally kicking the can down the road for someone else to pick up. She don't solve problems. She prides herself in making them worse. And even creating them to throw a monkey wrench in the gears. She was voted the worst legislature in Nevada twice. And she came in the running for worst even more times than that. She would prove totally and completely destructive for Nevada. This is a proven fact.

    And THIS is clearly seen by the Latinos here in Nevada. And they WILL vote accordingly. I would consider it a safe bet to say that the Hispanic American voters of Nevada will be glad to cast their vote to slap her away. Especially after her uncaringness and blatant ignorance of any and all issues effecting them.

  11. Don't vote messages don't go over well. It should have said, protest vote - vote for Republican, Libertarian, Green, anybody but democrats. I have nothing wrong with protest votes because they do send a strong message - especially with large voting groups like Hispanics.

  12. The heading of this article is very clever! It suggests to the uninformed and ignorant reader that the suppression of the Latino vote is perpetrated by the Republicans. Obviously, the writer is biased and thinks the electorate can be manipulated with cleverly chosen words. The GOP had nothing to do with the ad urging Latinos not to vote. On election day, the liberals might see that the electorate isn't as stupid as they think!

  13. To Democrats: May we assume you will not be attending Angle's victory celebration on Nov. 3? And may we further assume you do not know the difference between a wanton obstructionist and a person who unwaveringly stands up against legislation which is harmful to our state and nation? And, finally, may we assume you are totally clueless about what racism really looks like? Oh, you're a liberal? Well, that 'splains it. Nevermind.

  14. If the Tea Party and their Bosses (Banks; Oil Companies; Wall Street; U.S. Chamber of Commerce-with Chinese Money; Koch Brothers; etc..) are put in charge, they will again crash the economy. Their idea is to go back to the Bush policies where they ignored warnings of a pending 9-11 attack; financial meltdown and Iraqi's failure to have weapons of mass destruction. If the largest tax cut for the wealthy in history, two unpaid for wars and record spending could not save the economy, what makes anyone think returning to those policies is a good idea?

  15. Why would any person White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or any other race want to vote for Harry Reid and big government. A vote for Harry Reid is a vote to destroy America and the opprotunity for anyone who is or becomes a citizen of this country into becomming successfull.

    Harry Rieds agenda with getting the Hispanic vote is to promise little freebies for the Hispanics to follow him.

    I'll give you food stamps (you only get so much)
    I'll give your kids free lunch at school (they have to eat what we want them to eat)
    I'll give you sub-par medical care for free (not the best care by any means)
    I'll give you cheap housing in hood of our choice

    Hispanic Voters, if your going to vote, a vote for Reid is like giving up your freedom!! He will give you a little, but will take away your opprotunity to become truly successful. Want to live in a nice house, eat steak, drive a nice car? Harry Reid won't give that to you, this is America and you work hard you can have whatever you want. Don't become a slave to the government.

  16. Boy, you've got to love the T-Gagger's gumption here.

    It's Hawwy Reid's fault our candidate looks like a crazy racist idiot.

    No Gagger's, it's Sharon Angle's fault she is a looney bigoted racist dum dumm, Haha.

    Sorry, but I can see Sharon Angle's request for a recount on November 3rd from my house.

    The man who made the video works for a company staffed by people who WORKED FOR AND CURRENTLY WORK FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, IF YOU EVEN KNEW WHO MADE THE AD YOU WOULD KNOW THAT!

    But you don't, you just accuse them of being a Harry Reid plant, FIND OUT FACTS BEFORE YOUR TYPING RANT. The man has been interviewed on TV, and has admitted he worked for the Republican party in the past, and his current #2 MAN at the company WORKS AS A REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT.

    Ooops, tell your lady Sharon Angle to quit hiding!

    Does the phrase, "Get away from me, I'm crazy I tell ya, crazy" work well with any candidate, my vote would be crazy sharen.

    Thank you Republican's, you're the only ones who would've elected such an extreme candidate, to allow Harry to even have a shot is monumental.

  17. If the federal government can limit elections contributions to people that live in the United State or incorporated in the States. Why can't Nevadans do the same within it's own borders?

  18. REALLY; what is the problem?
    are hispanics dumb enough to be fooled
    are hispanics smart enough to listen
    BUT OUR trusted media will let you know what is appropriate to see and hear (and u thought u were living in America)

  19. Where is the Republican linkage to this article?

    Man behind ad urging Hispanics not to vote is a longtime GOP operative

    Funny, the right always freaks out at the slightest hint of a conspiracy theory on the left. They love to postulate nebulous associations, etc. Did you hear the latest one about NPR canceling their contract with a bigoted reporter because of George Soros? It's a hoot!

    So when they see a longtime GOP operative running ads meant to suppress the Latino vote in Nevada, it's just a coincidence? The man's worked IN and around the GOP since 1988... not indirectly... he was the GOP's director of Hispanic affairs.

    Funny that they'll wax poetic about how Jon Ashjian is a Reid plant with no evidence other than a shared religion, yet someone with direct, decades-long history of involvement in the GOP gets off without a question.

    Spare us the naivety.

  20. "The only Republican linkage to this article is that the ad is by "Latinos for Reform," an independent campaigning group led by conservative Robert de Posada,"

    And who is Robert de Posada?

    "But he and his group, Latinos for Reform, have big ties to bigwigs in the Republican Party."

    - Served as the national director of Hispanic affairs for the GOP

    - Appointed by George W. Bush to head a commission whose goal was to advance the privatization of Social Security

    - worked with former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (Gillespie is currently running more GOP-favored ads in Nevada as co-founder of "American Crossroads." The other co-founder? Karl Rove!)

    - Latinos for Reform, the "independent" group supposedly created to push for immigration reform, came to notoriety in 2008, when it ran ads which tried to pursuade Latinos that Obama didn't like them!

    - "According to several bloggers, Latinos for Reform's registration papers list the same address as one of the most successful 527 organizations in recent history: the Adm. Roy F. Hoffman Foundation, the brains behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign that called former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's Vietnam War record into question, and is often credited with costing him the 2004 election."


    And, as an aside to Larry:

  21. Mikey, the real issue at hand is a coordinated effort by the GOP to suppress turnout.

    Here's a nasty little secret republicans don't want you to know: if you survey registered voters, rather than likely voters, Reid has a commanding lead.

    If the people of this nation were not being subjected to a coordinated campaign to suppress the vote (this effort to suppress the Latino vote, Mark Kirk's concerted effort to frighten voters in urban districts in Illinois (, Democrats would retain the House and the Senate.

    As it stands, Sharron Angle should have had the easiest time of any insurgent candidate of taking out the incumbent. Instead, she's resorting to pandering to xenophobes and staying silent about this latest effort to suppress minorities.

    Until Sharron Angle herself speaks out publicly and tells Nevada voters that ANY voter of ANY ethnicity should vote, she has zero credibility.

  22. The only way to get some people to see the connection between the ad and the Republican party, is to get a blackboard and some chalk and outline it for them (and maybe some colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one).

  23. A question for Hispanics:

    What kind of immigration reform will the republicans support?

    What kinds of immigration reforms did they pass through in the decades in which they held power in the House and Senate?

    Harry Reid has actual, substantive policy proposals on reform. Proposals he's acted on, including increased border security, and at least an attempt to get the DREAM Act passed so that young children brought to this country through no choice of their own have a real path to citizenship if they apply themselves in school or are willing to put their life on the line for our country.

    Why is it Sharron Angle hasn't mentioned ANYTHING about her plan?

    Is it because she doesn't have one?

  24. Why does the title seem to indicate the Republican party had something to do with this campaign? Why not report the facts: "the ad by Latinos for Reform, an independent campaigning group" etc in the headline?
    Are there no other pictures of Ms. Angle available? Is this the worst one you can find? No problem, there are many scary Peloski and H Clinton ones out there

  25. Latinos are boycotting the elections. LATINOS!

    Smarten up! LATINOS!

    "Latinos for Reform, an independent campaigning group led by career conservative Robert de Posada, the paradox was presented as plain sense: Because the Democrats haven't delivered on immigration, exercise your right to vote by not doing so."

    LATINOS! Got it?

    Vote for Sharron Angle and end the confusion!

    Sharron Angle for U.S. Senate

    Brian Sandoval for Governor

    Laurie Bisch for Sheriff