Candidate Impulso: Cristina's or the Economy's?


Cristina Saralegui, better known to Latinos simply as "Cristina" is Spanish-language TV's Oprah.  Her popular talk show El show de Cristina for 21 years beginning in 1989 made her beloved among U.S. Hispanics who felt no one was speaking to them and looked to her for information on a range of issues--cheating hubs, domestic violence, staying healthy and fit, or helping the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

Cristina just endorsed President Obama:

Click here to view the inglés version.

Cristina always ended her show saying "P'alante porque pa' 'tras, ni pa' coger impulso" which basically means, "ain't no stoppin us now, we're on the move."

This is where the "Cristina" Obama 2012 ad hits hard, combining her strong brand of aspiration--who do we dream of becoming with what we need to get there, this ad focusing on access to health care and quality education (in the English version) as well as preserving social security and Medicare (in Spanish) for our seniors, issues she says the President has gone to the mat for.  Smart.  They consistently outrank immigration in polls of likely Latino voters.

But so do the economy and jobs.  In a tight election, these bread and butter issues are looming larger for anxious voters than social hot button issues such as abortion or gay marriage.  For Latinos, this is even more crucial given that unemployment during the recession and recovery has trended 2% higher for this group compared to the general population.  There's also the 66% loss of wealth between 2005 and 2010.

This is where the Romney campaign is laser focusing.  Although the President pandered to Latinos with last week's immigration checkmate, although the diablo is in the details with wide margins for the Administration to bungle this as it has with the staying of deportation proceedings for non-violent illegal immigrants, the Romney campaign is trying to regain its footing, playing defense with the economy, blitzing the Hispanic community questioning the President's assertion that "the private sector is doing fine" which had already touched off a bad, extended news cycle for Mr. Obama his immigration-related announcement tried to reverse.

The candidate and party that wins the Latino vote needs to understand a slightly different political calculation: tapping into the "kitchen table issues" and two powerful emotions.  One is aspiration--who we want to be.  The other is respect for an emerging community and voting bloc.

President Obama's announcement that up to 1.4 million illegal immigrants who qualify won't be deported has given him a clear advantage with this segment of the electorate that at first blush, feels someone is finally listening to them.  But that has happened before, dating back to 2008 when as a candidate he promised immigration reform and was unable to deliver.

Now the power lies with Hispanic voters: will they line up behind the President?  Will they pressure him and Democrats to make good on this new hope and promise?  Will they force Republicans to put a lid on the fringe in order to approach immigration with common sense and honesty?