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Appeal to Hispanic voters by Hillary Clinton backfires

The list “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” prompted backlash.Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Democratic front-runner for president has been savvy about talking to young voters in the parlance of the social Web, using emojis, sleek graphics, and other formats. But the list "7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela" seemed to backfire this week.

After Clinton shared news of her daughter's second pregnancy, a "content strategist" for her campaign posted the list, an effort to appeal to young Hispanic voters by pointing out how she was just like their abuelas, or grandmothers: She cares for all children. She reads to her grandchild before bedtime. She doesn't tolerate disrespect.

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Her critics were not impressed. Soon, the hashtag #NotMyAbuela was circulating as a critique of what some saw as a tone-deaf move to pander to a powerful but marginalized bloc of voters. Her critics pointed out that Clinton did not grow up poor like their relatives and was not separated from loved ones by country borders. Others just made their points with the magic of memes.

Clinton is not the only politician who has attempted playful acknowledgment of Latino culture: Jeb Bush, a Republican contender whose wife is Mexican-American, sold a "guaca bowle" on his website, and supporters of Clinton's main challenger, Bernie Sanders, have long referred to him as #TioBernie on Twitter. (On Wednesday, Sanders's campaign took steps to distance him from the hashtag.)

In Clinton's case, the Internet had soon propagated a new word to describe the situation: "Hispandering."

In an e-mail on Wednesday, Lorella Praeli, Clinton's director of Latino outreach, responded to the critics.

"As a Latina who recently became a citizen, I know firsthand the challenges that many in this country face," Praeli wrote, "including fear of deportation, and Hillary is committed to fighting against Republican attacks to tear families like mine apart."

Clinton's occasional online gaffes tend to attract more attention than the day-to-day operations of her campaign on social media. In June, she ramped up her efforts to appeal to the digital crowd by hiring an editor from Buzzfeed, the website known for perfecting the captivating art of the Internet list, to run her social media presence. Her social media output has expanded to include question-and-answer sessions, blog posts written by content strategists, a plethora of hashtags and colorful variations of campaign logos.

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Even so, her staff has made some awkward attempts at good memes, and critics generally respond by showcasing their own fluency in the language of the Internet. In August, Clinton asked her followers on Twitter to use up to three emojis to tell the tale of their student debt. In December, Clinton's campaign designed a logo meant to honor the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, but the logo appeared to place the civil rights hero at the back of the bus.

New York Times
Trump holds 21-point lead over Cruz in national poll

Donald Trump is heading into 2016 with a commanding lead atop the field of Republican presidential candidates, according to a new national CNN/ORC poll that shows him widening his advantage about six weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

The survey, released Wednesday, found that 39 percent of Republican voters back Trump for the nomination while 18 percent support Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Marco Rubio and Ben Carson each have 10 percent support. The billionaire developer has extended his lead from a month ago and essentially now has more support than his three top challengers combined.

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The poll represents good news for Trump, who has seen Cruz gain ground on him in Iowa and nationally, as evangelical Christians have found the Texas senator to be increasingly attractive.

But those queried by CNN/ORC (the Opinion Research Corp.) found that Trump is still viewed as the strongest Republican to handle the economy, immigration, and terrorism. His popularity has endured despite provocative proposals such as a temporary ban on Muslim immigration.

The rest of the Republican field remains muddled as 2015 draws to a close. Former governor Jeb Bush of Florida, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey are banking on strong performances in New Hampshire's primary on Feb. 9, after the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1. All three are languishing in the single digits nationally.

The CNN/ORC poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

New York Times