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Univision Networks President Cesar Conde has made political coverage a top priority, beginning with the company’s first presidential debate in 2008. He sees 2010 as something of a curtain-raiser. The network is airing debates hosted by English-language media in New York and Illinois.

“We need to step up our efforts to ensure that the Hispanic swing vote is best equipped to make responsible and informed decisions,” he said.

Univision was at the center of another Spanish-language political controversy, refusing to air ads by an independent GOP Latino group urging Hispanic voters in Nevada not to vote this fall. The group argued that neither incumbent Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angell deserved Latino support, but President Obama and other Democrats quickly attacked the ad as an effort to suppress Hispanic turnout.

Spanish-language media, particularly TV, holds sway among so many Hispanics in part because mainstream media have often ignored them, except when it came to crime or immigration. For years, it was the only place where Hispanics, even those who prefer to communicate in English, could see themselves reflected.

Democrats like Ms. Sanchez are using the immigration issue to hold onto Hispanic voters, warning them that if the Democrats lose their majority in Congress, changes to the nation’s immigration laws won’t even get an airing, let alone become law.

Republicans hope to blunt the idea that they are anti-Hispanic, a perception caused by some in the party who have used the border security debate as a referendum on Latinos and immigrants.

Toward that end, former Republican House Speaker and potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has appeared on Mr. Ramos’ Sunday show and discussed support for some path to legal status for those in the country illegally. He has also started a Spanish-language blog.