Without a strong leadership pushing them to eat their vegetables, Republicans who want to avoid Cantor’s fate will be inclined to make the easy, short-term move, which is to eat candy – and take a hard-line approach to immigration.
Individually, this makes perfect sense, but collectively, it could prove to be a huge problem for a Republican Party as a national brand.
With shifting demographics, it is likely that today’s anti-immigration reform rhetoric, while popular with the base, may sow the seeds for future losses in general election, where the electorate is typically younger and more ethnically diverse than in Republican primaries. (No, I don’t think Hispanics are solely focused on the issue of immigration reform, but I do think tackling this problem is a sine qua non.)
This will all be the fault of a phenomenon whereby the incentives push Republicans to take positions they would never otherwise take, in order to survive politically.