In a report titled “Can Univision Swing The 2016 Election?” The Atlantic points out that “the nation’s largest Spanish-language network” has established itself “as a powerful voice in politics” due to its Spanish-language coverage and its reach among the influential Latino electorate. But despite Univision’s ample viewership in the growing Hispanic constituency, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is ignoring the network.
Spanish-speaking journalists have become “vital contributors to the national dialogue,” as The Atlantic put it, in their coverage of the 2016 election because of their unique understanding of the Latino community and knowledge of the issues Hispanic voters care about most. Univision’s launch of the country’s first Spanish-language fact-checking initiative is another outstanding contribution that signals the network’s aim to empower the Hispanic electorate. Despite Univision’s unique position to reach the growing Hispanic constituency -- which makes up 17 percent of the population and is expected to deeply impact the 2016 election -- the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has yet to grant the network an interview.
According to The Atlantic, the network is complementing its election coverage with “efforts to mobilize Latino voters” through a “nonpartisan effort,” an information platform for Hispanic and millennial voters called Vote for Your America. The piece notes that Trump coverage by Univision and its anchor Jorge Ramos has captured “the frustrations Latinos felt in the weeks after” the candidate disparaged Mexican immigrants, and that Trump and “a number of former Republican presidential candidates” have not made “appearances on the network.” From The Atlantic’s July 19 article:
Univision has been expanding its reach for some time, largely because of the uptick in the Latino population in the United States. For Latinos, television is the most popular format for consuming the news, with the internet close behind, according to the Pew Research Center.
Univision’s influence in the United States is expansive. Over time, the network has hit new viewership milestones: In 2013, for example, it beat out the other broadcast networks during July sweeps, averaging 1.8 million viewers between the ages of 18 to 49 from June 27 to July 24. [Univision senior vice president for political coverage and special projects Lourdes] Torres attributes the network’s position as a dominant media player, in part, to Latino culture in the United States. “Spanish-language TV is still a central feature of the Latino home,” she said, “where there may be two generations in the same home that are still influenced and can still reference Spanish-language broadcasting as an important point of information.” The network’s success marks a new era for media in the United States, an era in which Spanish-language platforms like Univision and Telemundo have become vital contributors to the national dialogue.
A glimpse of that was on display in the English-language media market last August. Univision anchor Jorge Ramos got into a heated exchange with Donald Trump over the real-estate mogul’s inflammatory rhetoric on immigration at a press conference. Ramos—dubbed the “Walter Cronkite of Latino America”—captured the frustrations Latinos felt in the weeks after Trump called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals.” This wasn’t the only time Ramos and Trump butted heads, either: Ramos told CNN that when Trump talked about immigrants, it’s “personal.” And not only did Ramos take issue with Trump’s comments on Mexican immigrants, the network as a whole did, too: Univision refused to broadcast the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants—both Trump enterprises—in light of his incendiary remarks. (NBC did the same.) The Republican presidential candidate then sued the network for $500 million. Trump and Univision settled the lawsuit earlier this year. Meanwhile, Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration has only exacerbated the Republican Party’s struggle to attract Latino voters since Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign, which only won 27 percent of Latino support.
Still, as the race pivots to a general-election audience, the network has struggled to bring Trump on Univision. A number of former Republican presidential candidates also have not made appearances on the network. “We feel Latinos deserve to hear from both of their candidates, so they can make an informed choice about who they want for president,” Torres said, adding that Univision has tried using different mediums, like social media, to engage the candidates.
In addition to its robust political coverage, Univision has rolled out efforts to mobilize Latino voters. The nonpartisan effort, Vote for Your America, kicked off in February. (In 2012, Univision, along with other organizations, launched the Ya Es Hora campaign to increase awareness of voter participation.) The Vote for Your America campaign includes a digital election guide, as well as a bilingual text-messaging tool. According to Univision, more than 400,000 users have received Vote for Your America text messages across the United States. “The whole purpose of it is to provide a comprehensive, nonpartisan platform that provides information to Hispanics and Millennials and multicultural voters like you’ve never seen before,” said Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Univision’s executive vice president of government and corporate affairs.
Univision said it’s not supporting any candidate. But then, it doesn’t always take an endorsement to influence an election.