The Republican National Committee’s postelection “autopsy” report issued Monday suggests that comprehensive immigration reform could improve the party’s sagging fortunes with Hispanic voters.
Readers of the conclusions of the “Growth and Opportunity Project” are looking for reasons why Republican presidential candidates lost the past two elections. The pathologists observe that George W. Bush, who championed comprehensive immigration reform, “got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote [in 2004], a modern-day record for a Republican presidential candidate.” Some exit polling from 2004 suggests that figure may be overstated, but the Democratic nominee nevertheless won a solid majority.
Over the past four decades, the Democratic nominee has never won less than 56 percent of the Hispanic vote. Even the 2008 nominee, John McCain, the most prominent Republican immigration-reform advocate, won only 31 percent, just 4 percentage points more than Mitt Romney, who took a much tougher line on immigration, garnered last year.
There’s no clear connection between the party platform on immigration and the election results. “You can support immigration reform for moral reasons, for philosophical reasons or for economic reasons,” says Republican strategist Mike McKenna. “But if you are a Republican and support it for political reasons, you are an idiot who cannot read or understand survey data.”
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