Sergio Bendixen, the first Hispanic to run a U.S. presidential campaign who later pioneered public-opinion polling among Latinos and other immigrant populations, died late Friday in Miami. He was 68.
No cause of death was immediately available. Bendixen had been suffering from a bad cold in recent days, according to his friend and business partner, Fernand Amandi. The two ran the Coconut Grove-based Bendixen & Amandi International polling firm, though Bendixen was semi-retired.
“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.”
Bendixen not only focused on polling Hispanics: He also chose to survey them in Spanish, if they were more comfortable in that language, an industry innovation now considered standard in multilingual polling. He later expanded his work to other ethnic groups and worked for political candidates internationally, especially in Latin America.
His polling work came after a fast rise in the world of political consulting. In 1984, Bendixen was the national campaign manager for Democratic presidential hopeful Alan Cranston of California. He helped run Bruce Babbitt’s 1988 presidential campaign.
Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald file