Quartz.com reported on the Spanish language abilities of the announced candidates for the 2016 presidential election — and for some who might be planning to throw their hats into the ring.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t speak Spanish, but her campaign website is bilingual. Rubio’s is not, and Bush does not have a campaign website, as he has not yet officially declared that he will run.
However, there are several candidates and potential candidates listed as having some Spanish, or being comfortable using Spanish in speeches:
- Ted Cruz
- Rand Paul
- Martin O’Malley
- Rick Perry
Does it matter? The Christian Science Monitor quoted voters as saying that the use of Spanish communicates respect and may foster connections with Hispanic voters. Most commentators, however, emphasize that Hispanic voters are not a homogeneous bloc and that the positions held by candidates are more important.
Hispanic voters now comprise 11% of U.S. registered voters and Spanish is the most widely-spoken language in the U.S. apart from English, with 37 million speakers. Puerto Ricans are the second largest group of Hispanic voters on the mainland, after Mexican Americans, and the Puerto Rican influence is especially strong in the swing state of Florida. As political analyst Larry Sabato recently wrote: “if Republicans lose either Florida or Ohio, the nominee has no realistic path to victory. Both states are typically at least slightly more Republican than the nation as a whole. If GOP voters are thinking strategically during the nominating process, they will pick a candidate with a profile appealing to Sunshine and Buckeye state residents.”