For several days we heard the media excruciatingly analyzing the US elections. CNN and the likes know how social, economic, and demographic characteristics determine voting patterns. It is clear to them that Arizona and Utah, although neighboring states, think and behave differently in political and social matters.
They know that there are at least two Georgias: one with sophisticated cities like Atlanta and one with the modest small towns. Thus, we can say that the media grasps the marketing concept of Segmentation. Some politicians also employ another Marketing concept: Targeting. They deliver a customized message to each voter Segment, based on its needs and wants. The promises to the voters in New York, NY, cannot be the same to the residents in New York, Iowa.
Nevertheless, the media does not apply the Segmentation principle to voters from South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean: they talk about the” Latino vote.”
Here is the news: there is no Latino vote. The US media calls Latinos a mixed bag of nationals from over 20 countries, extending from Antarctica till the Rio Grande, covering almost 10 million square miles (about 200 times bigger than the state of Georgia). If people in two American states next to each other can behave differently, how can you think that Cubans and Colombians must have meaningful commonalities? The values, hopes, motivations, and aspirations that American citizens born in Honduras have can be totally different from those born in its neighbor, El Salvador.
Here is an important point: not all legal immigrants can vote, only those who have American citizenship. Thus, a Mexican-American citizen might have much more in common with their American white-collar neighbors than with the legal hard-working Mexican who does the landscaping in their yards.
Media channels were surprised that Trump got much more “Latino votes” in Florida than expected. Well, he did not. Trump did very well among Cuban-American voters in Florida, capturing 55% of their votes. His message to them resonated well. But the Puerto Rican voters living in Florida (also considered Latinos) gave Trump only 30% of their votes. After the 2017 hurricane disaster in the island (surrounded by water! from all sides!!), Trump’s behavior did not go well.
Thinking about a “Latino cluster” can lead to a biased sampling, which could provide misleading poll numbers. Suppose you were assessing Latino vote intention asking 100 “Latinos” if they were going to vote for Trump. You would get 55 if they were all Cubans, or 30 if they were from Puerto Rico. Two very different outcomes.
The media must recognize that “Latinos” is not a useful way to segment voters or consumers anymore. A segment is the part of a market with meaningful, similar, and identifiable values, needs, and wants.
It is time for the US media to quit referring to “the Latino vote.” There are not relevant, similar needs and values to justify putting Argentinians, Venezuelans, and Ecuadorians in the same basket.
The only common denominator all Latino immigrants have is that they came to the US looking for a better life. But this is also true for all immigrants, Latinos or not, living in the US or elsewhere.