Trump Outspent Biden on Spanish-Language Ads in Battle for Hispanic Vote

President Donald Trump's campaign has bought more Spanish-language television and radio advertising than Joe Biden's in their spending war to win over Latino voters in critical media markets.

Trump spent more than $1.4 million on Spanish-language TV and radio since June, while Biden has spent $953,782 in that timeframe, according to Democrats' media tracking data obtained by Newsweek. The spending gap widened because Biden's campaign started spending later. Since July 7, however, the Biden campaign made up some ground, outspending Trump $930,612 to $825,335.

The numbers are critical because they reinforce Trump's active "Latinos for Trump" campaign to woo those voters and alarm some Democrats who are concerned that Biden's slow roll to spend in critical states could cost him the election.

"Nothing in Texas or California, that's incredible," Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the nonpartisan National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) told Newsweek about Biden campaign's investment. "It's clear that in this election you absolutely can not take the Latino vote for granted, not just because you can't assume they won't vote for Trump, but also because you can't assume you'll get turnout in the numbers needed because of the pandemic."

The Trump campaign acknowledged its efforts to court these voters, whom they said were smart enough to "see through Biden's smokescreen and know that he is running on an extreme socialist platform, the likes of which have failed countries."

"Despite the Democrats and their partners in the media's narrative that President Trump has done nothing for the Latino community, our campaign will use everything at our disposal to ensure Hispanic Americans know that they have no better advocate in the White House than President Trump," Ken Farnaso, the campaign's deputy national press secretary, told Newsweek.

Latinos will for the first time be the largest racial or ethnic group in the 2020 electorate. Barack Obama hit a high-water mark in recent presidential elections with 71 percent Latino support in 2012, but Hillary Clinton only managed 66 percent support. While many Latino voters speak English, particularly younger Hispanics, Spanish-language outreach has always been considered a critical piece of a larger engagement effort. Democrats who saw Biden stumble with Latinos in the primary worry that Trump will eat into his support in key swing states.

That's because Trump's campaign is looking to increase his 28 percent Latino support from 2016, so he is pushing where Republican winning margins are razor-thin, such as in Florida. Although a Real Clear Politics polling average showed Biden up 7.8 percent there in July, even Democrats said the margin in the state is always in play because presidential results have been won by a 1 percent margin since 2000.

"You don't need to just win Hispanics, you need to run up the score with Hispanics especially in states like Florida," Jose Parra, a veteran Democratic strategist and former senior advisor for Harry Reid, told Newsweek

"Without a doubt, they are pouring in the investments because they recognize how much the Latino electorate defines outcomes in certain states and as well as the electoral map," Daniel Garza, executive director of the Koch-led LIBRE Initiative, told Newsweek.

Across the board, however, Democrats and activists recognize the importance of Spanish-speakers to the election as shown through their investments. Mark Kelly of Arizona, the most well-funded Senate candidate in the nation, has invested in Spanish-language ads, Senate Majority PAC announced a seven-figure Spanish-language buy with SomosPAC, and Mi Familia Vota, a grassroots organization, launched $3 million in ads in swing states, which includes ads in Spanish.

"What Biden has is an ecosystem of support, while Trump is trying to kick up dust and destabilize his numbers,"said James Aldrete, a Texas-based political consultant who worked on media and messaging to Latinos for the Obama and Clinton campaigns.

Latino voters have always been harder to reach because of the way they consume media in two languages, and television and radio ads are all the more important to reach them this cycle because Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus cases, deaths, and the financial impact of the virus, according to government data and polls. The Trump campaign spent the bulk of its money on Spanish-language TV advertising in multiple Florida markets, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. It bought just $4,644 in Spanish-language radio ads in New Mexico and Texas. But the Trump campaign invested more in Florida, with a large part of the financial edge coming in the expensive Miami market, where Trump spent $689,860, and the Biden campaign spent a mere $363,155. In terms of coverage areas, the former vice president aired ads in the same Florida markets as Trump's did, like Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, as well as Arizona.

The Biden campaign has said it will also invest $15 million in English-language and Spanish-language ads in six states Trump won: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina.

While Democrats were worried about the spending disparity, some who spoke to Newsweek explained that Biden ended a bruising primary very low on funds and needed to raise more money before his campaign could get large-scale voter mobilization programs going. Biden has also outraised Trump in the past two months.

Nonetheless, jittery Democrats told Newsweek they hope the July numbers portend a change in priorities for the Biden campaign.

"My hope is what they've done since July 7 will become the norm," Parra told Newsweek.

Latino outreach, however, isn't just Spanish-language investment, as it was decades ago. Hispanics are disproportionately younger, over-represented on digital platforms, and more speak English now—a steady increase, as Pew Research Center figures showed. Representatives from the Biden campaign pointed out to Newsweek that some of their English-language spending is also reaching Latinos, estimating that in markets with high Hispanic populations, 15 percent of their impressions in English-language media will go toward Latino viewers. The campaign said that in addition to the $953,000 tracked by Newsweek, $790,000 of their English-language TV buys across Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Phoenix, and Tucson were targeted toward Hispanics.

"We know that Latino communities are not a monolith and consume information across all platforms and languages, which is why we are using culturally competent content and different dialogues to address what so many Latino families are currently facing due to the failed leadership of Donald Trump," said Jennifer Molina, the campaign's Latino media director.

biden sad
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William Hicks Anderson Community Center, on July 28, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. Mark Makela/Getty