CIQ in the News

La Polémica Política



It’s no secret that the current political environment in the U.S. is highly divisive. Tune to FOX News, MSNBC, Newsmax or CNN, and there’s bound to be at least one roundtable of talking heads pontificating and bashing their ideological opposites.

For political candidates seeking to win on the November 2024 ballot, and for those pushing a particular amendment, referendum vote or Proposition, media advertising matters more than ever.

Are Hispanics being included in those messages? Michele Córdoba and Ana Fernandez-Rockwell, Founding Directors of Culture IQ Group, are helping to bring greater Insights ana access to the U.S. Hispanic marketplace to the political landscape.

“We’ve been in this space for six cycles now — 12 years — and we take a unique approach to Hispanic political because. we do insights-based strategic marketing and try to start with research as much as we can, says cordoba. we are tailoring our messages directly to the voters that we’re trying to speak to, whether they prefer English or Spanish, and what media they consume and what their priorities are.”


Culture IQ’s analysis of Hispanic political advertising comes from a largely Democratic perspective, based on the clients it has worked with over the last 12 to 15 years. That said, it does nave insights into Republican efforts to lure Hispanic voters. Overall, Córdoba and Fernandez-Kockwell can confirm an increase in spending over the last 12 to 15 years. This largely reflects the congressional campaigns ana select issue-advocacy work Culture IQ has conducted in the U.S. Hispanic market.

But, the big takeaway for Culture IQ is that a push to have advertising start earlier in the election cycle has transpired. According to Córdoba, activity would begin just three weeks before Election Day when Culture iQ first opened its business. “We now have comprehensive four-month campaigns and primary campaigns dedicated to the Latino voter,” Córdoba says. “That’s an improvement.”

Fernandez-Rockwell adds, “When we first started it as almost as if Hispanic work was to check a box. Now they are putting a lot more thought into it. Greater spending is the obvious change but doing more research and understanding they need to speak to Latinos earlier in the cycle has been a noticeable and welcome change.”

Meanwhile, Córdoba wishes to erase the notion that U.s. Hispanics are low propensity” voters by changing the narrative, as she considers them to be “low information” voters.

“They have told us time and again, especially with down-ballot races. that If they don’t know the candidates and they don’t understand what is at stake, they will not vote,” Córdoba admits.

“That impacts down-ballot races, especially in presidential years. We need to get them to commit to voting down-ballot, and research-based creative is important there. The goal is to get people to feel comfortable voting.”

Fernandez-Rockwell comments, “Even though the Latino voter may not be the majority they may play a big part in that margin of victory they may need. They are starting to realize that this makes a difference.”


With the 2024 U.S. presidential election and down-ballot races heating up, where are the political dollars in the U.S. Hispanic market and which media are seeing the most activity?

Córdoba points to Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia, while Congressional races in California and Florida attracted spending. In contrast the California U.S. Senate primary saw very little money spent. Why? “They were looking for Republican voters.”

Should one assume, however, that all Latinos in the Golden State are Democrats? When one travels through communities such as Lemoore, Merced, Planada and Los Banos, shouldn’t a GOP candidate consider the potential Latino voter that may not be getting all of the literature they need to make an informed vote? “It’s a very good question,” Córdoba notes.

While Culture IQ doesn’t work with Republican Party candidates, a group that chooses to do so may have a strong opportunity to build the GOP’s Golden State Latino voter rolls.

“I don’t think anyone assumes that any Latino in California is an automatic Democrat, especially in the Central Valley” Córdoba says.

In fact, a 2022 Congressional race in California’s 13th District that saw Republican John Duarte win against Democrat Adam Gray yielded some intriguing insights following Election Day.  “Duarte won that race by 545 votes.” Córdoba says; “Her team worked on the Gray campaign. “He spent twice as much as we did in Spanish-language media. He had fabulous creative. He was able to win that race because he had addressed the Latino market.”

A rematch between Duarte and Gray is set for November. Going beyond stereotypical divides could make or break each candidate’s campaign. For Córdoba, having a message that resonates is core to a successful political advertising effort. “No party can take the Latino vote for granted,” she says. “You have to have a message.”

Culture IQ spent all of 2021 researching Latino views on abortion and reproductive justice and how to talk to Latinos about it. “The assumption was that Latinos were not going to vote for pro-choice candidates because they are anti-abortion. What we heard time and again was that while one may not have personally wanted an abortion or have

Their daughter have one, there was much resistance to the idea of the government telling their neighbors what to do.”

Fernandez-Rockwell believes Democrats can learn from Republicans with respect to grass-roots efforts that have been done in the last few years. This includes the GOP getting Puerto Ricans leaving the island after Hurricane Maria registered to vote in their new mainland electoral district.

And, while the Republican party messaging may still be seen as contrary to what many may believe is the norm among U.S. Hispanics, Córdoba can say that the days of having the only political ad on Spanish-language radio are long gone.

According to eMarketer, political ad dollars going to the U.S. Hispanic market in 2024 are expected to be four-times as large as they were In 2016. However, 60% of those dollars are expected to go to digital platforms.

Does this mean that there is more of a challenge for Spanish-language radio and TV to get political ad dollars they’ve been clamoring for? “I think it is a challenge but I don’t think it is insurmountable,” Córdoba says. “Again, it all comes back to what Ana was saying, that ‘the spend is the spend, right! Digital is a great place to reach U.S. born Latinos of immigrant parents.”

In contrast, she adds, “You still need Spanish-language radio and television to reach people who aren’t using social media or digital to the same extent. The challenge is not having the money to do all of it, and not leaving people behind.”


A piece of the electorate just turned 18. There are newly naturalized Hispanic voters. While both groups are new to the voting process, an education process about the candidates and why it is important to vote remains critical to Hispanic voter outreach.

This can help to combat misinformation that may filter through social media.

“There’s still clarity that needs to happen, so we have to do persuasion and motivation by telling them to get out the vote and why,” Córdoba says. “They need to understand that this truly makes a difference and impacts their lives.” Fernandez-Rockwell adds, “That need is still there. We hear it in our focus groups.”

Looking at the campaigns Culture IQ has been involved with, does one stick out as being a particular success story for Córdoba and Fernandez-Rockwell?

Córdoba notes that 7 of the 8 Congressional races it was worked on were successful; education on reproductive justice issues proved to be the pivot, demonstrating that the abortion issue as Hispanic voters see it directly contributed to reshaping Congress.

Says Córdoba, “We are responding to a need, and that helped us win.”


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