Latino community needs ‘tailored' approach to political fundraising, experts say
In an interview with LPO, Juan Proaño, the co-founder said that the statistics show that even as Latinos increasingly come of age politically in the US, a majority of Democratic presidential campaigns fell behind in efforts to engage Latinos and win their financial support.

Research suggests that US politicians should do more to take a "tailored" approach to outreach and fundraising among the country's Latino community, which proved vital for Joe Biden's win in the 2020 Presidential election.

According to data from Plus Three, a technology company that researches Latino contributions to Democratic presidential candidates, Latinos contributed more than $23.7 million from more than 1.7 million receipts. Latino-specific data for contributions through the election in November 2020 is not available yet.

The data, however, shows that through 2019, of the Democratic candidates running for office only one - Bernie Sanders - had an established base of Latino donors.

Through the end of 2019, Sanders had raised $8.2 million from Latinos, compared to approximately $2 million each for Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. Joe Biden, who went on to win the election, had raised only $1.4 million from Latinos by the end of the year.

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In an interview with LPO, Juan Proaño, the co-founder of the Florida-based Plus Three, said that the statistics show that even as Latinos increasingly come of age politically in the US, a majority of Democratic presidential campaigns fell behind in efforts to engage Latinos and win their financial support.

"Presidential campaigns now raise over $1 billion. But they raise this money, and then they spend it by hiring staff, hiring vendors, and with pay media, outreach and community engagement," he said. "But they don't reinvest the money back into the Latino community."

Part of the reason that money raised isn't reinvested back into community outreach efforts in Latino communities, Proaño said, is that there remains a lack of Latino representation on the campaign staff of candidates in the United States.

"They are few and far between. There aren't enough of them, and they don't have enough influence at the top level of the campaigns. They certainly don't hire enough Latino firms," he added.

Although statistics are not readily available, Proaño said that "probably less than 1%" of the vendor firms hired to help with these efforts are Latino-owned.

However, Proaño said that the statistics show that - contrary to popular belief - Latinos do contribute financially to their preferred candidates.

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"Everyone thinks that Latinos don't make donations. They think we don't vote. But Latinos are investing in political campaigns at a higher rate than they ever have before," he said.

Looking to the future, Proaño said that Democratic political campaigns would be well advised to ensure that they have staff capable of providing "good advice" with regards to the Latino community.

"While Biden won the general election, we've lost seats at a local level that would have been Democrats. Why? Because these campaigns and candidates are not doing enough the Latino voters," he said.

As an example, Proaño pointed to states such as Texas, Florida, Nevada, Mexico, New York and California, Latino-heavy states where engagement with the community can make the difference in winning or losing an election.

"Clearly, campaigns don't understand the community well. They think we are a monolith. There is a ‘general campaign' approach, and the reason they do that is that they don't necessarily see a lift in performance," he said.

"With a targeted campaign, they [campaigns] sometimes don't feel like it's enough," Proaño added. "If they feel things are moving quickly, they don't have the time to do micro-targeted campaigns. So they don't and skip over it. A bulk of their spending will go to a general strategy, although there will be very specific campaigns in certain markets."

A report published by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative in January found that Latino voters were decisive in sending Joe Biden to the White House, highlighting the importance of engagement with the community.

Of the 13 states analyzed, Latinos in 12 states supported Biden over Trump by a margin of at least 2 to 1. In nine of the 13 - including the key states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the margin was at least 3 to 1.

Nationwide, Latinos cast 16.6 million votes in 2020, a 30.9% increase over the 2016 presidential election. By comparison, turnout was 15.9% greater among voters of all races. 

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