Remember all the hand-wringing from those smart “conservative” pundits (you know who they are) who, after the 2008 election, argued that the GOP had to moderate or else risk extinction?

Once it became clear that 2010 would be a good year for Republicans, many of these same folks quickly pivoted, adopting a nuanced argument that went like this:

“Sure the GOP can have a good year in 2010 — but that’s a mid-term election.  Winning in 2010, however, will actually reinforce the GOP’s silly notion that they can win the future without changing their conservative (read mean-spirited) ideology.  After all, changing demographics mean that conservatism will eventually go the way of the dodo”…

Now, even that argument, which — let’s be honest — was really their “plan b” argument, seems to be falling apart.

Writing in the Washington Post, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith notes,

Exit polls reported by CNN and updated this week reveal that a historically robust 38 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for House Republican candidates in 2010 – more than in 2006 (30 percent) and 2008 (29 percent). In fact, since 1984, Republican House candidates have only won a higher percentage of the Hispanic vote in one election: 2004. This level of Hispanic support for Republican candidates came despite widespread pre-election claims by advocates for illegal immigration that the Arizona law and a pro-rule-of-law stand would undercut Hispanic support for Republicans.

(In my estimation, 38 percent is nothing to write home about — but the trend line is, at least, finally going in the right direction).

Rep. Smith goes on to note the importance of the rise of conservative Hispanic candidates, adding:

Who are these pro-rule-of-law Hispanic rising stars in the Republican Party? Voters elected Susana Martinez governor of New Mexico, Brian Sandoval governor of Nevada and Florida’s Marco Rubio to the U.S. Senate. Bill Flores, Francisco Canseco, Jaime Herrera, Raul Labrador and David Rivera went to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Even the pro-amnesty advocacy group America’s Voice admitted that “Republicans can celebrate their victories, and hold up Rubio, Martinez and Sandoval as evidence that Republicans aren’t anti-Hispanic because they can get Latino Republicans elected in states with large Hispanic populations.”

Worth noting is that candidates like Rubio and Martinez appear to be bona fide conservatives — not moderates like, say, former Senator Mel Martinez.

I can’t wait to hear what the doomsday “conservative” pundits will say if this positive trend continues.

What’s their “plan c” argument?