As the California presidential primary race heats up Republican front-runner Donald Trump may be in for a nasty surprise.
After months of 'Trumpophobia' voter registration among Hispanics in California is surging, according to political analysts.
It's being fueled by a hugely successful pro-Hispanic publicity campaign featuring a slick video , 'Turn Ignorance Around,' created to combat the derogatory stereotypes Trump has encouraged about Mexicans.
Launched last month, it was designed for Sunday's 10th anniversary of the historic immigrant rights event "La Gran Marcha," when thousands are expected to gather in Los Angeles to demand immigrant and labor rights.
It features a parade of Latinos wearing t-shirts with the words "dealer," "murderer," "attacker," "thief" and "trafficker" on t-shirts. They turn around to reveal who they truly are: a chef who says he is a "dealer of flavor;" a gardener who is a "murderer of weeds" and a teacher who is a "trafficker of knowledge," among others.
For Sunday's event the agency created a t-shirt with a new message; "I'm a dealer," it says on the front. On the back it reads: "A dealer of change. I'm Latino and I vote."
California has seen a surge in voter registration ahead of the June 7 primary, especially among Democrats and Latino voters, according to Sacramento-based political data expert Paul Mitchell. He attributed that in large part to positive and negative views about Trump.
"In a traditional election year, a 65% growth from the same period of last year would be remarkable. But this year we are seeing a doubling of registration growth among Latinos, and a more than 150% increase for some young voters, and a near-tripling for Democrats,” he wrote this week in Capitol Weekly magazine.
California's 15 million Hispanics comprise 39% of the state's population, according to the Pew Research Center. But only 46% of Hispanics in California are eligible to vote, compared to 81% of the state’s white population.
The Turn Ignorance Around campaign was inspired by Trump's now infamous denigration of Mexican immigrants during the June 2015 launch of his presidential campaign in which he said Mexico was "sending" immigrants to the United States, whom he described as drug traffickers and rapists, as well as some "good people."
"When we heard the words that Donald Trump used we said we had to do something, we had to react," said Martin Cerri, Creative Director at the Los Angeles office of Walton Isaacson, a mid-sized ad agency where basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson is a partner. "We decided to turn those words of hate into something positive."
Cerri, a 40-year-old Argentine-American immigrant, said one of the goals of the campaign is to promote voter registration. "We want people to take action and make our voice count," he said, adding that he is looking forward to voting in his first U.S. election in June and November.
The campaign was made in English, to better direct its message where it needs to be heard, said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the Action Fund's sister organization.
"Often we speak to the converted. People need to be made aware we are not what the Trump campaign says we are," said Cabrera.
"The video went beyond our expectations. It's gotten eyeballs," he added. "We are incredibly grateful to Walton Isaacson as there is no way we could afford that kind of production quality."