The Republican National Committee’s “Growth and Opportunity Project”—a self-assessment of the GOP’s 2012 performance, released Monday—diagnoses the party with a dire messaging problem, among other potentially life-threatening woes. But the surprising news from the report? It supports comprehensive immigration reform.
The study says that the GOP “must embrace” and “champion” reform, or fall victim to shrinking constituencies. “We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all,” the report says.
The GOP is famously divided over the immigration issue. Some prominent Republicans have voiced their support, like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.—both of whom represent states with significant Hispanic and Latino populations. (In Arizona, 30% of people identify as Hispanic or Latino, as do 23% in Florida, versus 16.7% of the national population). Others, like Jeb Bush, have bobbled, while Mitt Romney’s staunch conservative stance on immigration reform cost him Latino votes in 2012.
Why the disconnect? For starters, in the 232 Congressional districts represented by Republicans, Hispanics make up only 11 percent of each district on average. But in the 200 Congressional districts represented by Democrats, Hispanics make up 23 percent of each district, the New York Times notes. Such conflicting constituency incentives could make the House of Representatives a big hurdle to enacting the RNC report’s policy prescriptions.
But with the release of Monday’s report, party leadership is changing its tune–and putting it in writing.
“We have become a party that parachutes into communities four months before an election,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. “In comparison to the other side, the Obama campaign lived in these communities for years. The relationships were deep. They were authentic.”
Priebus announced a $10 million plan financed by the RNC that will focus on building footholds in African American, Asian, and Hispanic communities.
“ ‘You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you,’” the report says, quoting Tea Party activist Dick Armey. “ ‘We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home.’”
Read the full report here.