“We’ve been working with a group of Spanish-speaking Tea Party people in Florida,” said Jenny Beth Martin, chairwoman of the coalition group Tea Party Patriots. “In Wisconsin, people were putting material out in Spanish, reaching the Spanish-speaking community. Our idea of freedom resonates across party lines and across the party divide.”

That’s one take on the problem. The other take: Republicans will need to resist some elements in their base and pass immigration legislation that wins over Hispanics.

“If the Republicans were smart, in January, maybe they’d come out with that bill and win some of that support in exchange for some of the Tancredo-style support,” said FreedomWorks’s Steinhauser. “The left saw the future and built a demographic coalition among people who don’t maybe necessarily agree. You lose some of your hard-core supporters and you pick up new ones.”

For the first time, there’s an issue that could pit the GOP’s best-organized and best-funded grass-roots against other parts of the party base.