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September 21, 2014

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As finish line approaches, campaigns issue final Spanish-language messages

Obama leads among Hispanic voters as Romney attacks incumbent’s economic record

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President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney

Libre Initiative Ad (Spanish)

Romney Economy Ad (Spanish)

Saralegui/Michelle Obama Ad (Spanish)

Obama DREAMers Ad (Spanish)

Election day is less than a week away and along with the crush of last-minute messaging on English-language media, the campaigns are also putting out their final messages to Hispanic voters on Spanish-language radio and television.

This week the Libre Initiative , a conservative political action committee run by a former George W. Bush staff member, released an ad that encourages people to head to the polls. The ad kicks off with a series of Hispanics sharing stories of hardship in the last four years.

"How has your life changed in recent years?" a narrator asks in Spanish.

"I haven’t been able to find a job since I was laid off in 2009," a woman responds, looking into the camera.

Last week the campaign for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney hit President Barack Obama on the economy, the issue at the top of the list for both Hispanic voters and the general public, in a Spanish-language ad that compares Obama’s first four years in the Oval Office to Romney’s term as governor of Massachusetts.

On Oct. 24 the Obama campaign released a television and radio ad in Spanish featuring Michelle Obama and Cristina Saralegui, a talk-show host sometimes referred to as the "Hispanic Oprah Winfrey" who has been an ardent supporter of Obama this cycle.

"Why is it so important for Latinos to vote in this election?" Saralegui asks the first lady in Spanish.

Michelle Obama then lists off comprehensive immigration reform, health care reform and education as some of the major issues of importance in this election.

Earlier this month the Obama campaign released its first ad featuring the president speaking directly to the audience in Spanish.

The ad directly addresses the issue of "DREAMers," young immigrants who were brought to the Unites States illegally, usually by family, who are in school or the military

"In the young people known as DREAMers, I see the same qualities Michelle and I try to instill in our daughters," the president says in Spanish. "They respect their parents, they study for a better life, and they want to give back to the only country they know and love."

Las Vegas, a relatively cheap media market in a swing state, has been flooded with ads in English and Spanish. Yet, a report from the United States Chamber of Commerce found that the amount spent on Spanish-language media is not commensurate with the Hispanic portion of the electorate.

Andres Ramirez, president of political consulting group Ramirez Group and the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Hispanic Caucus, said his experience was Hispanic voters would tune out the bulk of campaign ads, much like the general voting public. However, he said campaigns were clamoring to get time on popular Spanish-language shows and get the endorsements of figures like Saralegui, because the messages carry more weight coming from them.

For example Univision’s immensely popular variety show "Sabado Gigante" aired its 50th-anniversary show Saturday, and Ramirez said the campaigns were "tripping over themselves" to get ad time during the episode.

"When Saralegui is on TV, that’s not someone who is being tuned out," Ramirez said. "There are years of loyalty there with the audience. They trust her and have followed her show and advice for years."

Ramirez said the benefits of candidates, or their surrogates, speaking in Spanish were less clear.

"There’s not enough research to determine if that helps or not," Ramirez said. "But in general, more communication is better than less, or none."

The latest poll from Latino Decisions shows more enthusiasm among Hispanic voters in this election than in 2008.

Obama holds the support of 73 percent of Hispanic voters nationwide in the latest tracking poll, compared to Romney’s 21 percent. The poll also indicates that while the economy and jobs are the most important issues among the majority of Latinos, immigration reform comes in second, ahead of education and health care.

Clark County Elections Department data show a significant increase in the number of registered voters with Spanish surnames, and the campaigns are working their phones and knocking on doors all over the valley to make sure Hispanic voters turn out to vote.

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