Title

Soy Barack Obama, y Yo Apruebo Este Mensaje: The Obama Presidential Campaigns and the Latino Electorate

Graduation Date

5-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Political Science and International Studies

Director of the Honors Program

Gigi Gokcek, PhD

First Reader

Alison Howard, MA

Second Reader

Mairi Pileggi, PhD

Abstract

The goals of political campaigns are to successfully reach voters and mobilize them with campaign-specific messages. To accomplish their goals, campaigns introduce candidates, address various issues of interest and propose solutions to existing problems. These factors thus lead to the following question regarding the historic Obama presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012: How did Obama frame his campaign message to Latino voters in 2008 and 2012, using Spanish-language political advertisements, and did that message significantly change between his 2008 and 2012 campaigns? Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns addressed issues that the Latino electorate cared about. In both years, the campaigns worked to push Barack Obama’s policies and garner support for him amongst Hispanic voters. Starting in 2008 and continuing through the 2012 presidential campaign, the Obama campaigns identified the power of the Latino vote and capitalized on it through strategic messaging using Spanish-language television campaign advertisements. To further understand how the campaign carried this out, this research takes on the form of a content analysis of Obama’s Spanish-language campaign ads. The Obama campaigns’ ads touched on issues that Latinos cared about, crafted an image of Obama that Latinos could identify with, and mobilized the demographic to head to the polls. This kind of direct mobilization led to the 4% increase in the Latino vote for Barack Obama between the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

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