The day after President Obama won a second term in the White House, Univision News anchor Jorge Ramos opened his newscast with a fact he had noted all along -- no U.S. presidential candidate could win election without the Latino vote.
It is estimated that Obama, a Democrat, captured more than 71% of the Latino vote in this election, the highest tally ever by any candidate, according to an exit poll analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center. His main opponent -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee -- tallied barely 27% of those voters, Pew said.
More importantly, the Nov. 6 election showed that Latinos now represent 10% of all U.S. voters, compared to 8% in 2004.
Hispanic cable and broadcast networks offered extensive coverage -- and made extensive get-out-the-vote efforts -- throughout the 2012 campaign. CNN en Espanol, Azteca America, Telemundo and Univision sent correspondents throughout the country, and airing real-time updates from key battleground states and from the headquarters of both campaigns.
But while more Latinos cast their ballots than ever before, ratings for election coverage on Spanish-language networks were still below the average telenovela. Among broadcasters, Univision averaged 3 million total viewers on election night (1.5 million among adults 18-49) while Telemundo tallied 927,000 total viewers (427,000 adults 18-49).
To put these numbers in perspective, Univision’s three-hour special broadcast of Sábado Gigante on Oct. 27 pulled in nearly 7 million total viewers, while its Nov. 7 premiere of Amores Verdaderos, a Televisa telenovela, on Nov. 7 reached 5.5 million viewers. Telemundo’s July premiere of Pablo Escobar: El patrón del mal night-time telenovela averaged 2.2 million.
The Nov. 6 results have already unleashed a change in the political debate in Washington, where Republicans and Democrats are touting the crucial importance of the so-called minority vote. Immigration reform is also back on the table, receiving bi-partisan support.
“At last, non-Hispanic politicians are now talking about the Latino wave […] as if we weren’t here before,” José Díaz-Balart said on Sunday morning, as he devoted the entirety of show Enfoque to analyzing the 2012 election and the importance of the Latino vote.