Does the GOP really have to pass immigration reform?
Now, there is a theoretical maximum for Republicans among whites; sooner or later you run into Madison, Wis., and Ann Arbor, Mich. But we tend to assume that it’s “natural” for Democrats to win huge portions of conservative Hispanics, and almost all conservative blacks. Against this backdrop, it seems a bit touchy to assume that Republicans will max out at around 60 percent of the white vote. This might be the case, but as we’ll discuss next time, it’s entirely possible that as our nation becomes more diverse, our political coalitions will increasingly fracture along racial/ethnic lines rather than ideological ones.
Look at it this way: In 1988, George H.W. Bush, running against a weak opponent in a fantastic environment for the “in party,” won the white vote by 20 points. In 2012, Mitt Romney, running against an incumbent president in what was a neutral-to-slightly-favorable environment for the “in party” by Election Day, accomplished the same thing.
How does a Republican running in a more favorable environment perform today? I don’t see any compelling reason why these trends can’t continue, and why a Republican couldn’t begin to approach Ronald Reagan’s 30-point win with whites from 1984 in a more neutral environment than Reagan enjoyed. It’s not necessarily the most likely scenario, but it strikes me as more likely than a Democrat winning 90 percent of the Hispanic vote.