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Posted at 03:30 PM ET, 05/23/2012

Romney address to Latinos comes as campaign works to make up ground with key constituency

Mitt Romney’s address Wednesday to the Latino Coalition’s Small Business Summit Luncheon in Washington comes as polls show the presumptive GOP nominee lagging behind President Obama among Hispanic voters – and as Obama’s Spanish-language outreach effort continues to outpace his rival’s.


File photo: Republican candidate for U.S. president and former Gov. Mitt Romney (R) greets guests at a campaign appearance at Conchita Foods Inc. in Miami, Florida November 29, 2011. (JOE SKIPPER - REUTERS)

Recent Washington Post-ABC News polling shows Obama leading Romney 71 percent to 27 percent among Hispanic voters. And a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday shows Obama with a 35-percentage-point lead over Romney among Hispanics.

While Romney aired Spanish-language ads during the GOP primary campaign, he has released only one Spanish-language general-election TV ad so far – “Día Uno,” a direct translation of his English-language “Day One” ad. According to NBC News, the ad was part of an initial $3,000 buy in the Raleigh, N.C., media market.

The Obama campaign, by contrast, has spent an estimated $1 million on Spanish-language TV ads to date, Reuters reports. The campaign doesn’t confirm the amount, but says the latest buy is “substantial.” Its second round of Spanish-language ads, which are health-care themed, went up earlier this month in the battleground states of Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Its Spanish-language ads started on April 17.

Romney’s Web site also does not yet have a Spanish-language version. The Obama campaign launched a Spanish-language version of its Web site in February.

The Republican National Committee earlier this month announced that it has hired directors of Hispanic outreach for six states – New Mexico, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida, Colorado and Virginia. But the difficulty Romney faces among Hispanic voters was underscored at the roundtable where the RNC made its announcement, as the committee’s national Hispanic outreach director struggled with questions on Romney’s immigration position.

For Romney, the question heading into November may be not whether he loses the Hispanic vote but rather by how wide a margin he loses it.

In 2008, Hispanics comprised 9 percent of the electorate, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lost the Hispanic vote to Obama by 36 points. Four years earlier, Hispanics made up 8 percent of the electorate; George W. Bush lost the Hispanic vote to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by only 9 points.

That margin could make a difference in what’s expected to be a close general election. And with Hispanics currently at 16 percent of the population – a percentage that is expected to nearly double by 2050 – their influence in key swing states looks only to increase.

This story has been updated.

By  |  03:30 PM ET, 05/23/2012

 
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