Mr. Nicholson invested heavily in outreach, hiring a brain trust of Latino marketers and political strategists. We surveyed which Hispanic populations—by region, age, sex, acculturation and ethnicity—would be most receptive to our message. We trained and deployed more than 40 surrogates with various levels of proficiency in Spanish and expertise in key issues. We customized everything. Surrogates of different Hispanic ethnic backgrounds spoke to different communities in different states, and ads varied state to state and community to community.
In tandem with then-Gov. George W. Bush’s popularity among Hispanics (he was, remember, a Spanish-speaking presidential candidate from a border state), our efforts helped Republicans more than double their share of the Hispanic vote over the next two presidential cycles, reaching 44% in 2004.
The winning Republican message for Hispanic voters was similar to what the party would have said to any group with a strong work ethic, a healthy distrust of government (often acquired from experience in home countries), traditional views on family and social issues, and an affinity for entrepreneurship. The Census revealed in 2010 that Hispanics were creating new small businesses at 2.5 times the rate of the general population.