“I’m trying to explore ways in which the Republican party can make itself viable nationally, so it can win national elections without sacrificing its basic principles,” he says. “That’s the mission I’ve set for myself.”

Republicans lost the race, he says, because they made the same mistake he did when he made his famously wrong prediction about a Romney landslide: Both errors stem from a misunderstanding of America’s demographic changes. When Republicans won in 2010, it was easy to believe things had returned to normal. But the 2012 presidential election showed that the GOP’s electorate model “was wrong, and it was wrong for all times.” Latinos, women, and gays are “voters who would like to be Republican,” he says. “The Republican party just isn’t letting them.” Those groups are critical to the GOP’s future success, he says.

Republicans don’t want to embrace immigration reform in part because they think Hispanics will vote for Democrats, he says. And Hispanics would vote Republican, except Republican resistance to immigration reform has convinced Hispanics that they’re a reviled group. Marco Rubio’s immigration bill would be “an excellent start” to break a “vicious cycle.”