GOP Trying to Target Growing Number of Young Latino Voters

Young Hispanics to be growing electoral force in coming years.

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Democrats are paying attention to the details, reaching out to the different nationalities within the Latino community. A spokesperson for the Obama campaign points to ads from the DNC with a Mexican-accented voiceover on the Nevada and Colorado ads and Puerto Rican on the Florida ads. In contrast, she says, the Romney campaign has no Spanish-language website.

The Romney campaign, however, believes that messaging for separate constituencies is a sign of weakness. A Romney spokesperson notes that the Obama campaign emphasizes healthcare reform in ads targeting Latino voters.

"Unlike President Obama, who has to divide voters and send them mixed messages, our message is going to be consistent," says Romney spokesman Alberto Martinez. "President Obama can't talk effectively about the number-one issue affecting Hispanics because he has a terrible record on the economy." The Romney campaign declined to discuss the specifics of strategy.

Gaining the younger Latino votes may simply be a matter of understanding that the growing wave of those voters is, well, young. Reaching young voters of any skin color means turning to media that political campaigns aren't currently using to their advantage.

"[Young voters] don't watch TV anymore, and they don't read newspapers in particular ways. If it has to be an electronic game, [campaigns] are just not quite sure what works," says Jan Leighley, professor in American University's government department.

Facebook status updates and Tweets may be a strength for Republicans going forward, says Greener, who applauds their recent efforts.

"I would give the current Republican National Committee some pretty high marks for being sensitive in terms of recognizing the power and strength of young voters," he says. "If you want to be talking to voters or Americans—15, 16 [years old] to 24, 25—and you're not attentive to social media, you're just kidding yourself."

Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter at @titonka or via E-mail at dkurtzleben@usnews.com.