Skip to content
Subscriber Only

The GOP's Hispanic Problem Is Bigger Than They Think

A volunteer with Mi Familia Vota assists Harvey Stroh with voter registration papers at the Hadley Branch Library in Denver
A volunteer with Mi Familia Vota assists Harvey Stroh with voter registration papers at the Hadley Branch Library in DenverPhotograph by Matthew Staver/The New York Times via Redux

The day after President Obama’s decisive reelection, Republicans of every stripe were already coalescing around a reason why they’d lost and a prescription for what they’d need to do to compete again. Most concluded that their party’s hostility toward Latinos—one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups and one Mitt Romney lost 75-23, according to an exit poll conducted by Latino Decisions—had cost them the White House. The presumptive fix was to relent and get behind an idea many conservatives have stubbornly resisted for years: comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 12 million immigrants in the country illegally.

This pivot was most jarringly apparent in the case of Sean Hannity, the Fox News personality and talk-radio host whose angry nativism amplified and reinforced the outlook Mitt Romney was appealing to when he said last spring that “illegals” should “self-deport.” Last Thursday, Hannity announced that he’d “evolved” and now supports citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “We’ve got to get rid of the immigration issue altogether,” he told his radio listeners.