By the numbers
Size of Latino electorate
2004: 7.6 million
2008: 9.7 million
How Hispanics voted in presidential races
Democrat: 62 percent in 2000, 53 percent in 2004, 67 percent in 2008
Republican: 35 percent in 2000, 44 percent in 2004, 31 percent in 2008
Hispanic priorities for the Obama administration
Percentage of Latino adults who said an issue was "extremely important":
Economy, 57 percent
Education, 51 percent
Health care, 45 percent
National security, 43 percent
Environment, 33 percent
Immigration, 31 percent
Steamboat Springs Source: Mario Carrera and Marcelo Gaete, Entravision Communications Corp.
Hispanics' influence in politics will only continue to grow in coming years, and politicians ignore that voting bloc at their peril, two Spanish-language media executives said Friday.
A presentation by Mario Carrera and Marcelo Gaete of Entravision Communications Corp. rubbed some conservatives the wrong way. The two spoke on the first day of the Steamboat Institute's inaugural Freedom Conference, which promotes conservative political principles and continues today at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.
Carrera and Gaete presented data on America's Hispanic population and its voting trends. Carrera said Hispanics are a critical mass of voters vital to political success that are mostly young and eager to participate civically. He also said the Hispanic population is underrepresented and underserved by both parties, suggesting there are opportunities to capitalize politically.
"In several states, the Latino registration is larger than the margin of victory (in political races)," Gaete said. "To ignore this growing electorate - you do it at your peril. : Republicans are going to have to compete in the ethnic communities, otherwise they're going to be out of reach, especially in some communities."
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008.
Carrera and Gaete presented data showing there are 414 counties in the U.S. where Hispanics make up 15 percent or more of the population. Hispanics make up 13 percent of the electorate in Colorado.
"This population will triple by the year 2050," said Carrera, who noted that at a median age of 27, Hispanics are the youngest ethnic group in the country.
The most contentious assertion of the presentation, among those in the audience who fear a bilingual nation, was Carrera and Gaete's assertion that politicians need to communicate with Hispanics in Spanish to be successful. The discussion drew some critical comments and audible grumblings from some members of the audience.
Carrera said commercials in Spanish are 61 percent more effective at increasing awareness levels in Hispanics than commercials in English, and 52 percent of Hispanics say ads or programs on Spanish-language television encourage them to get involved politically and vote.
"It is our assertion : that you do it in the language they most prefer," said Carrera, who said that while Hispanics embrace and learn English, they don't abandon Spanish. "Spanish is here to stay. : Spanish still resonates even in the case of Hispanics who have been in the country more than 20 years," he said.
Gaete put a personal touch on the argument. He said that when his mother is angry with him or telling him to do something, she does it in English.
"When she tells me she loves me, she tells me in Spanish," Gaete said.
The Freedom Conference is intended to promote the Steamboat Institute's "five principles": limited government, lower taxes, free markets, strong national defense and individual rights and responsibilities. Today's speakers include Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.