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Posted on on April 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Obama team, begins Wednesday  the campaign with its first round of Spanish-language television and radio ads. The initial spots — to be aired in Colorado, Nevada and Florida — will feature Latino Obama volunteers promoting the president’s education policies.

In one spot, Daniella Urbina, a Harvard University graduate raised by her mother and grandmother, says: “Financial aid is very important to the Latino community. I was the first in the family that was going to go to college. I think President Obama understands us.

Obama’s campaign will intensify its Latino phone-banking operation and send canvassers door to door to find even relatively small pockets of Hispanic voters in states such as New Hampshire.

Obama campaign’s Web site features a Spanish-language calculator on which voters can compare their tax rate with Romney’s. And the president has become a regular presence on Spanish-language media, having done 15 interviews since his inauguration on the Univision Network alone.

The stakes for both sides are heightened by the math and the map. Hispanics are the nation’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority, accounting for more than 16 percent of the population. They also make up crucial voting blocs in two-thirds of the swing states where the presidential election is likely to be decided.

A survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center showed Obama beating Romney 67 to 27 percent among Hispanics if the election were held today. The Republicans say that in order to have a chance they need to increase theit percentage of the Spanish vote to 40%, and this will not be easy.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a rising star who has been talked about as a potential running mate for Romney said: “When you hear these anti-illegal immigration voices .?.?.they sound as if they are not just anti-illegal immigration. They sound like anti-immigration and anti-immigrant voices. The vast majority of Republicans don’t talk that way, but, unfortunately, all the voices that talk that way happen to be Republicans.”

But there are signs that Latinos are not as enamored with Obama as they once were. A Gallup poll this month, for example, found that his job approval among Hispanics was only nine percentage points above the national average; in earlier surveys, it had run as much as 20 points above the overall number.

Although Obama is not likely to lose the Latino vote to Romney, he may have trouble motivating enough Latinos to come to the polls, said Matt Barreto, a University of Washington political science professor who heads the nonpartisan polling firm Latino Decisions. “More people are less excited this year.”

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