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A boy listens to U.S. President Barack Obama speak on immigration reform at Chamizal National Memorial Park in El Paso, Texas, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young
National Review plays dumb.
John McCain, a principal instigator of the Senate group, has made his motives clear: “Elections, elections — the Republican party is losing the support of Hispanic citizens.” His plan apparently is to develop a bipartisan approach to helping Republicans win elections; perhaps Chuck Schumer imagines other outcomes. Senator McCain has not said why he believes that the interests of Hispanic citizens are to be identified with those of non-citizens, why those interests should trump the interests of citizens (including Hispanic citizens) harmed by the lawlessness of our borders, or why a senator with an established record for supporting amnesty could not muster one in three votes from those Hispanic citizens.
George W. Bush, the most Latino-friendly Republican in forever, got 40 percent of the Latino vote (I know some claim it was lower, but I'm not convinced). McCain got 31 percent, Mitt Romney 27 percent. Why did McCain only get 31 percent? Because he spent the entire GOP primary season promising to vote against the same immigration reform policies he had previously championed.

But let's look at this another way: electorally.

President Barack Obama won last year 51-47. Had Mitt Romney equaled Bush's 40 percent with Latinos, the totals would've been 50-49 (around 49.8-48.8 to be exact). Had Romney gotten ~44 percent of the Latino vote, he would've won the popular vote.

The Latino community is growing. It went from 9 percent of voters in 2008 to 10 percent in 2012. The median age of natural-born Latinos is 18. The percent of the non-white vote is expected to rise another two points in 2016 (and Asians and African Americans are even more Democratic than Latinos).

Republicans will never win a majority of the Latino vote. There are simply too many core disagreements on both economic on social issues. But 40 percent isn't out of the realm of possibilities. And once you get to 40 percent with brown Americans, you don't need to squeeze out as many more (diminishing) Anglo voters. It's still a tough task for any Republican, but not as rough as losing 75-80 percent of the non-Anglo vote makes it.

The percent of the non-Anglo voters is expected to rise another two points in 2016, from 28 to 30 percent. Think of it this way: If Anglos were 70 percent of voters last year instead of 72, it would've boosted Obama's winning margin by 1.4 points, from:

Obama 51.1, Romney 47.2


Obama 51.8, Romney 46.6

If that seems crazy, it is! And this is the dilemma the McCains of the GOP are trying to address. Yes, they won't win the Latino vote, probably ever. But they have no prayer of winning the White House unless they begin to chip away at Democratic advantages with non-white constituencies. And they'll never stand a chance of doing that unless they stop standing in the way of reform.

I know it's an impossible choice for them—most of those legalized immigrants would end up Democratic voters. But conservatives have a choice between a short term problem and a never-ending one.

Because the growth of Americas brown population isn't slowing. So Republicans can either take their bitter medicine (immigration reform) and suffer short term, or stand in the way of it, and suffer short term ... and long term.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:33 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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