Campaign & Elections: “How Bilingual Research Became the Norm” (But Trump Won Without It!)
Sergio Bendixen, who according to the Miami Herald was “the first Hispanic to run a U.S. presidential campaign who later pioneered public-opinion polling among Latinos” passed away at the age of 68 on May 26, 2017.
Fernand Amandi, Bendixen’s business partner at Bendixen & Amandi International, says that “Sergio led the way in capturing the opinions of and understanding how Hispanics in America thought and felt about the most important issues in our time,” Amandi said. “He was largely responsible for giving Hispanic America a voice.”[Sergio Bendixen, pioneer pollster of Hispanics, dies at 68 Patricia Mazzei and Alex Harris, Miami Herald, May 27, 2017.]
Amandi has an article over at Campaign & Elections entitled How Bilingual Research Became the Norm, July 28, 2017.
Amandi writes that
The word pioneer gets thrown around a lot in our industry, but Sergio Bendixen was truly the embodiment of a pioneer when it came to polling and the public opinion research industry in this country. He really had a vision before it was confirmed by the U.S. Census, before it was confirmed by conventional practice, of understanding that the country’s demography was changing rapidly.
Yes, the country’s demographic transformation, for which the nation never voted.
Until his innovations there had been a blind spot in public opinion research: the perspective of those who did not speak the English language.
So why are there citizens who don’t speak English? That’s the real question.
Bendixen’s own background and heritage as a bilingual, bicultural Peruvian-American, who had lived in California and Southern Florida, gave him that understanding. He pioneered what was called bilingual polling by recruiting and training bilingual telephone operators to conduct interviews in language of preference. That was an innovation that for either cost reasons or capacity reasons really had never been done before.
Shouldn’t all U.S. citizens speak English?
As a result of doing surveys in Spanish, the data became much richer and much more accurate. The view points of the non-English dominate [should read “dominant”] populations that we were looking at contrasted very much with the English-dominate [should read “dominant”] perspective – even within cultural groups.
That’s very interesting. The “view points” of those speaking other languages contrasted with those of English speakers, “even within cultural groups”.
So the language we speak isn’t just some random collection of words then, is it?
For instance, if we were talking to English-dominate [dominant] Hispanics about a certain issue, we found that their Spanish-dominate [dominant] counterparts, who were also Hispanic, didn’t necessarily have the same viewpoints or perspectives. It opened up important nuances to think about when looking at the different ethnic groups who make up the population.
Even among “Hispanics”, the dominant language had an influence on their perspective.
And not just Hispanics…
Over the years, we found other groups including Chinese- and Arab-Americans were receptive to being polled in their native languages. So he started conducting polls in the various different languages spoken by the various different groups that make up the United States.
Yes, my friends, language does make a difference. Along those lines, check out this article from October of 2016 (during the election). It’s a about Poll Research poll which found that
Among Latino voters, 37% of Clinton supporters are English dominant, 22% are Spanish dominant and 41% are bilingual. By comparison, 60% of Latino voters who back Trump mainly use English, while 5% mainly use Spanish and 35% are bilingual.
In other words, the admittedly smaller pool of Latino voters who backed Trump were more likely to be English-dominant. In fact, a majority of Trump’s Latino backers were English-dominant.
If that’s true, shouldn’t all Republicans support Official English and linguistic assimilation?