Mitt Romney took an enormous gamble about a year ago: he would run very far to the right on immigration policy, alienating the fastest growing segment of the American electorate on purpose, in order to secure the Republican Party’s nomination. Then, he hoped to be able to avoid a drubbing from Latino voters in the general election. It was, as Ron Brownstein put it, Romney’s “original sin.”
The gamble, we now know, failed miserably. President Obama won close races in Colorado, Nevada, and (probably) Florida, and it was Latino voters who made this success possible.
But let’s also step back and look at the bigger picture.
After George W. Bush’s relative success eight years ago, this current trajectory simply isn’t sustainable for the Republican Party, and basic self-awareness suggests the party must recognize its dilemma. As NBC’s First Read put it this morning, “[M]ake no mistake: What happened last night was a demographic time bomb that had been ticking and that blew up in GOP faces.”
It was an offhand comment made in August, but one of the more important quotes of 2012 came from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who conceded, “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
The question then becomes what the party intends to do about it. As the party does some wound-licking and soul-searching, I might suggest putting this at the top of the to-do list. If party leaders think “self-deportation” is the appropriate solution, they can expect to see more results like yesterday’s.