Florida vote
Florida voters. Unsplash.com/Mick Haupt

2024 is around the corner, meaning that the presidential campaign will dominate the U.S. public agenda. And Latinos are playing an increasingly relevant role, already comprising close to 20 percent of the population and over 14 percent of eligible voters in the 2022 midterm elections.

In this context, messaging aimed at this demographic will play a key role. In The Latin Times' year in review, we look back at interviews with political officials, a Democrat and a Republican, to understand their priorities at the time of appealing to the largest amount of voters possible.

They are Spokesperson and Hispanic Media Director for the Biden-Harris campaign María Carolina Casado and Jaime Florez, the RNC's Hispanic Director of Communications.

These are the highlights of the interview with Casado, a Venezuelan immigrant who moved to the United States in 2014 and has been working with the Democratic party since 2016.

How Democrats are Fighting for the Latino vote

"We started earlier than ever, more aggressively than ever, doing ads in Spanish, in English targeting Latinos, but also in Spanglish targeting our young Latino community," Casado said.

The latest example of this is an ad published in mid-December, where the Biden-Harris campaign compares his likely opponent, Donald Trump, with authoritarian Venezuelan leaders Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.

"We start before the Sun, stop after it's gone down. We build the country. But to some we are invisible. Not to Joe Biden. He sees us, he invests in us, our community, businesses. Republicans don´t, and like dictators want to take things away: health insurance, rights, freedoms and safety," says the 30-second ad, which shows pictures of Trump, Maduro and Chavez in succession. "The difference is clear. Build with Biden," says the ad.

Regarding why she believes Latinos voted slightly more Republican these past years than before, Casado said those votes come from a specific area of South Florida and result from misinformation. "There is a coordinated campaign of misinformation that is very, very, hard to combat, to approach. At the beginning it seemed like something organic, but it's definitely something that is paid, coordinated and it's really hurting our community," Casado said. "It spread lies about President Biden, but it's even spreading lies about things the Republicans have done that they haven't."

A phota Maria Carolina Casado from her X account Maria Carolina Casado's X Account

Casado said Latinos care about having freedom, and Biden fights for the things that matter to Latinos, including gun safety and reproductive rights.

"Joe Biden is fighting for the things that matter for us. Gun safety, prevention of violence from guns," Casado said. "That's the fourth priority for Latinos in this cycle, while Republicans receive money from the NRA, millions and millions of dollars, and they don't take action to protect our children being killed at schools and in the street."

Republicans' messaging priorities

Florez, a Colombian immigrant who has been living in the U.S. for 30 years, has been involved with the Republican party in one way or another since 2014, but he officially joined the RNC in 2021.

In his interview with The Latin Times, he focused on migration and messaging as two key components of Republicans' strategy.

"Because there are so many loose cables in immigration, we have to make sure we solve every one of those problems, and if necessary, one-by-one," Florez said. "Maybe that is the problem, and the reason why we haven't been able to reform our immigration laws is because we've been trying to do it all together," he added.

Jaime Florez, RNC Hispanic Communications and Outreach Director Jaime Florez Instagram Account

Florez said people think that immigrants are happy about the situation at the southern border, but that is not the case. "The first victims of this failed border policy are the immigrants. Those who came to this country and paid for their dues and waited the time that they had to wait to get their immigration problem solved." "And now they're seeing millions of people who we don't know who they are and where they came from."

Florez said Republican beliefs align with many Hispanic beliefs, such as valuing family, life, religion, God, freedom and opportunities. He said many Latinos came to the U.S. fleeing socialist policies that created social and economic problems for countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil.

Right now, Florez said he's doing outreach through the RNC's Community Centers, which are focused on minority communities. There are 18 of these community centers in Hispanic communities, which Florez said have been used as campaign offices but also as a place to have permanent two-way conversations with community leaders and community members.

Florez said during the last election cycle, someone was at that office five or six days a week permanently, and it also became a gathering place. "We were able to be the place where people meet and had events for the Venezuelans, the Nicaraguans, the Cubans, Colombians as well. That worked very well," Florez said. "People felt like they had a place, not only a place where they were receiving information from us but a place where they could go and make suggestions and propose ideas."

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