If many of the Hispanic non-citizens across the country became voting eligible citizens through immigration reform, some of those states become much more interesting politically. Take Texas, where only 22 percent of voters were Hispanic, but they make up 37 percent of the total population of the state. The pattern is similar in Arizona, where 17 percent of voters were Hispanic but they accounted for 29 percent of the total population.
Here's the Hispanic population within each of those states. Across the board, the percent of Hispanics who turned out to vote in 2012 fell short of their voter registration levels. Voter registration among Hispanics in Texas reaches 55 percent, but only 39 percent actually voted in 2012. It’s nearly as bad in Arizona, where 52 percent of the Hispanic citizen population is registered but just four in 10 actually voted.
Simply rejecting immigration reforms aimed at a path to citizenship carry big political risks as well, including the possibility of reducing Republicans' already-weak standing with the Hispanic voters (and future voters).
The takeaway? Hispanic citizens' lower turnout and registration rates have so far limited their political impact. But if the significant share of Hispanic non-citizens gain a path to citizenship and actually start voting, the electoral map could change much more quickly than what the slowing changing demographics of the country suggest. And that would be a bad thing for Republicans.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.