Texas politicians who learn Spanish are at an advantage

Dec 25, 2013

Credit Marjorie Cotera / Jennifer Whitney / Callie Richmond / Spencer Selvidge

Spanish-speakers now make up nearly one-third of the population of Texas, and political observes say that's an important factor for politicians to consider during the upcoming 2014 election season.

A number of politicians vying for statewide office in Texas are Spanish-speaking, including incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who plans to challenge Dewhurst for the lieutenant governor post, according to this Texas Tribune article.

Political consultants call this effect an "in-group." The ability to speak Spanish, whether that's as a native speaker or through learning Spanish purely for professional reasons, gives a politician the ability to connect with Hispanic voters in a way that isn't quite matched any other way.

As the Spanish-speaking population in Texas grows, and as Spanish media such as Univision and Telemundo become more popular, political observers say the ability to speak Spanish is a factor that will give politicians an edge with the Hispanic population, regardless of political affiliation.