The air war: Obama has outspent Romney 12-1 in Spanish-language ads
Is Obama defining Romney before he can define himself?
By JORDAN FABIAN
Television ads are one of the most effective tools politicians use to spread their message and generate enthusiasm for themselves or turn off voters to their opponent.
The media is bombarded by a slew of web videos and TV advertisements from campaigns every day. While it’s informative (or tiresome, depending on how you look at it) for the media to see those ads, what’s more important is whether voters see them on their TVs. The best way to judge that is to see how much money the campaigns are spending to put them on the air in key markets.
NBC News reported Thursday that Mitt Romney’s campaign and its allies have closed the gap with President Obama’s team when it comes to overall ad spending over the past month. But the one area where Obama still holds a strong advantage is advertising on Spanish-language TV.
“Team Obama” has spent almost 12 times as much as “Team Romney” on Spanish-language advertising, $6.1 million to $521,000, according to NBC.
Obama’s campaign itself has spent $3.6 million, while he’s also received help from a super PAC, an outside group that’s allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of money to support political candidates). The super PAC, Priorities USA Action, and the SEIU labor union have teamed up to spend an additional $2.5 million.
While the Obama campaign’s ads have generally been positive. Obama’s campaign just released a new ad Thursday featuring former Univision host Cristina Saralegui touting his record on the economy, healthcare, and national security. The labor union/super PAC ads, however, have generally been negative hits on Romney on the economy and immigration.
The $521,000 sum in support of Romney has come from his campaign. Most ads have been positive, but some have gone after Obama on the economy. So far, GOP super PACs have not spent money on Spanish-language airwaves, despite outraising their Democratic counterparts.
Obama is outspending Romney in nearly every major media market in battleground states that have large amounts of Latino voters.
For example, the president’s allies have spent $68,000 in ads in Orlando to Romney’s $20,000. In Las Vegas, Obama has spent $46,000 while Romney has spent $16,000. Obama is going unchallenged with $31,000 in the Tampa market. The only market where Romney is running ads and Obama is not is Raleigh, N.C., where Romney has spent $7,000.
Obama’s whopping edge over Romney could help explain his 40-point edge among Latino voters nationwide. The president’s supporters are spending money to tout his accomplishments to Spanish-speaking Latino voters, spread a message specifically tailored to them, and knock down Romney.
“[Latinos] will vote either for Democrats or Republicans depending on the message, depending on the outreach, depending on the quality of the message and whether it is in English or in Spanish, which is critical,” Lionel Sosa, a long-time GOP Spanish-language ad man said at a Univision panel last year. “If [Latinos] feel that the candidate can project this message, they will respond and if the opponent does little or nothing, they will respond.”
Obama’s allies have targeted markets in battleground states where Latinos could decide the result, primarily Florida, Colorado, and Nevada, ensuring that voters there receive their message.
Meanwhile, Romney has left Obama’s message to Latinos virtually unchallenged. His campaign has repeatedly said it will introduce the candidate to the Latino community, but that leaves the risk that he could be defined by Obama to Latino voters before he gets the chance to define himself
Romney’s Latino outreach efforts have slowly ramped up. He gave a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in late June and this week marked Romney’s first major expenditure on Spanish-language TV, NBC reported.
There are two caveats to this:
- There is no doubt that Spanish-language messaging is crucial in forming a candidate’s message to the Latino community. Ignore it at your own peril. But for now, it’s apparent, that English-speaking Latinos are more open to Romney than are Spanish-speakers. Whether that’s because he hasn’t spread his message to Spanish-speakers or because English-speakers have different political preferences is unclear. But Romney’s strategy might be to focus now on where he is stronger.
- Romney and Obama have handled their campaign cash very differently. Obama has spent a lot of money early in the race, while Romney has spent his time fundraising and hoarding cash for later in the election. While Obama’s spending totals have been impressive, Romney now appears to have a cash advantage over his opponent. That could mean more money for a Spanish-language ad push later in the campaign, but we’ll have to wait and see whether that becomes a reality.
(Photo: Flickr, YouTube)