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HPPR Government & Politics

Texas politicians who learn Spanish are at an advantage

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