A Changing Landscape

Key States Set for Dramatic Increases in Size of Latino Electorate

Spurred on by their historically poor performance with Latino voters in last year’s elections, some Republicans are getting on board with immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in a bid to avoid permanently alienating this key voting bloc. The so-called Gang of 8 in the Senate (four Democrats and four Republicans) could introduce an immigration reform bill as early this week. And supporters of reform including a path to earned citizenship are holding a major rally here in Washington D.C. on Wednesday afternoon.

New research out today from our Center for American Progress colleagues underscores one reason why Republicans may finally be eager to deal with the issue: the challenges associated with the GOP’s reliance on a base of older, whiter voters. The size of the Latino electorate in key states is set to increase dramatically over the next two election cycles, further complicating the GOP’s efforts to successfully contest national elections if they continue to rely almost exclusively on white voters.

The report groups the politics of immigration into four categories: the past (California), the present (Virginia, Florida, Colorado, and Nevada), the near-term future (Arizona, North Carolina) and the long-term future (Georgia, Texas). The report’s conclusion of how these politics will continue to play out is very clear:

Even leaving California out of the picture, the states analyzed in this issue brief comprise 137 electoral votes. In 2012 Democrats won 332 electoral votes to the Republicans’ 206, but if Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia were to shift Democratic, that would bring the grand total of electoral votes to 412—an insurmountable margin.

Whether these states flip from red to blue is an open question. But two things are abundantly clear: In each of these states, voters of color, particularly Latino voters, are becoming an ever-larger share of the total voting population. These voters care deeply about how both parties talk about immigration, and use it as a litmus test for how candidates from either party feel about their communities as a whole. In fact, immigration reform has become the number one political issue for Latino voters. The voters have spoken, and the message is clear: Getting right on immigration and getting behind real and enduring immigration reform that contains a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country is the only way to maintain electoral strength in the future.

For all of the details, you can check out the entire report HERE.

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Advocacy Team