There is a lesson here that goes beyond immigration: Obama would have been better off doing what he thought was right and letting the politics take care of themselves. When Halperin, co-author of the bestseller “Game Change,” and Democratic strategists called for postponing executive action, they were looking at politics as a game, moving pieces to maximize numbers after the next election. But politics is not just always a game of winning the next election. It’s about doing, as Obama belatedly remembered Wednesday, “what I think is best for the country.”

Instead, his political calculation turned out to be too clever by half, and he wound up setting back a worthy cause without helping Democrats at the polls. “You repress the vote in the Latino community, and what did you come up with?” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) asked rhetorically during a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday, according to an account in Politico. He called the loss an “indication about what happens when you try to toy with your principles and your beliefs.”

In Florida, the Hispanic share of voters dropped to 13 percent from 17 percent two years ago. Because Latinos favored Crist over Republican Gov. Rick Scott by 20 percentage points, that was likely enough to cost Crist victory in a close race.