Why Republicans want (and need) immigration reform — in 1 chart

January 28, 2013

Arizona Sen. John McCain's involvement in an 2007 effort to comprehensively reform the country's immigration system almost cost him his chance to be the Republican party's presidential nominee.

Five years later, McCain is one of eight Senators -- four Democrats, four Republicans -- leading the charge for an immigration plan that includes among others things, a path to citizenship for those people in the country illegally.

What changed?  The 2012 election, which revealed that Republicans could no longer afford to write off, politically speaking, the nation's fastest growing minority group.

It's common knowledge -- among political nerds, at least -- that President Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote last November compared to just 27 percent for Mitt Romney.

But, what's even more eye-opening (to our bespectacled eyes) is how little of Republicans' overall vote came from non-white voters.  Here's a chart from the good people at Capital Insight -- the Post's pollster -- on that very subject:

Just one in ten people who voted for Romney weren't white as compared to 44 percent of those who voted for Obama. That's not all that different from past years but what has (and continues) to change is that white voters are a decreasing portion of the overall electorate. In 2012, that number dropped to 72 percent, the lowest it has ever been.

The writing is on the political wall: There is no path for the Republican party to be a viable national party in the next decade or two if they cannot win more than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote. Simply passing immigration reform doesn't solve the problem but it's a step in the right direction.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Sean Sullivan · January 28, 2013