Bernie Sanders’s Nevada caucus campaign ended with a convincing win Saturday afternoon, thanks in large measure to a 37-percentage-point victory among Latino caucus-goers. But the seeds of that victory were sown five years ago when a staffer on Sanders’s first presidential bid had trouble reading a Spanish website.
It was Memorial Day weekend 2015, about a month after the Vermont senator launched his long-shot challenge to Hillary Clinton. Sanders was short on resources; his staff was a skeleton crew, with no one who could translate Spanish.
So the campaign summoned Chuck Rocha, the founder and president of Solidarity Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in reaching Latinos and blacks that was launched by Rocha in 2010. He charged Sanders triple his usual rate to work on the holiday.
If anyone is responsible for the huge Latino outreach effort that has helped propel Sanders to the front of the Democratic pack, it’s Rocha.
The innovative program is a dramatic contrast to 2016, when Clinton had highly specialized minority outreach operations and Sanders struggled to woo voters of color.
“This time around the Sanders campaign really has invested, and you see them everywhere,” says an operative who worked on Latino outreach for the Clinton campaign in 2016 and then worked with a 2020 candidate who left the race.