‘The universes of Latino voters and vulnerable House Republicans hardly overlap.’

August 21, 2013

Do House Republicans have to worry about a backlash from Latino voters in the 2014 midterms if they end up spiking immigration reform? That's long been the conventional wisdom, but it might not be true.

Our colleague Greg Sargent had a smart post yesterday noting that House Republicans actually hold just five vulnerable House seats with a heavy concentration of Latino voters. "Of the seats Dems have a shot at flipping," he notes, "only five of them might be made more accessible by high Latino turnout."

Read his post for the rationale, but we can also check this out with colorful maps. First, here's the 2010 Census data on where Hispanics and Latinos are located around the country:

Where Hispanic and Latino voters live:

At first glance, it sure seems like there are lots of counties with high concentrations of Hispanic voters.

But there are actually only about 19 GOP-held districts, give or take, where those Hispanic voters could plausibly swing an election, as shown in the map below. And, as Sargent notes, citing David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, only five of those are thought to be potential Democratic pickups in the 2014 midterms (I've circled them in red):

Where Latino voters actually overlap with vulnerable Republicans:

Those five districts are below—and note that these Republicans all held their seats in 2012, when Latino turnout was already high:

-- CA-31: Gary Miller, 49.44 percent Latino.
-- CA-21: David Valadao, 70.96 Latino.
-- CO-06, Mike Coffman, 19.72 percent Latino.
-- NV-03, Joe Heck, 15.66 percent Latino.
-- NY-11, Michael Grimm, 15.68 Latino.

Now, this doesn't mean House Republicans have no electoral reason to pass immigration reform. Maybe they're worried about losing the 2016 presidential race. Or maybe they're worried about disapproval from non-Hispanic voters around the country.

Or maybe they're looking at this Census map showing the parts of the country where the Hispanic or Latino population is growing rapidly:

Where the Hispanic or Latino population has grown the fastest:

Notice that the population has been growing most quickly in areas that aren't currently dominated by Latino voters. Still, for the time being, as Wasserman puts it: "The universes of Latino voters and vulnerable House Republicans hardly overlap."

Further reading:

--Here's what happens when Republicans have to explain their position on immigration at town halls.

--Top House Republican on immigration says no path to citizenship. Not even for DREAMers.

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Dylan Matthews | August 21, 2013