Since taking a hardline stance on immigration during the Republican primaries, the heat had been on Mitt Romney to find a way to reach Latino voters and show them that the Republican Party was on their side.
But well before any network called the election of President Barack Obama on Tuesday, pundits and party leaders already were talking about the shifting electorate and blaming a lack of appeal to Hispanic voters for Romney’s loss.
"The Romney campaign to the [Hispanic] community was atrocious and, frankly, the fastest growing demographic in America isn’t going to vote for a party that sounds like that party hates brown people," Erick Erickson wrote at RedState.com.
"That does not mean the GOP must offer up amnesty. It does mean that a group that is a natural fit for the GOP on social issues, must in someway be made to feel comfortable with the GOP."
According to ABC News, Obama took 71 percent of the Latin vote in this year’s presidential election, as compared to 27 percent for Romney. In 2008, against Sen. John McCain, Obama took 68.
With some surveys showing support for Obama as high as 75 percent, analysts said Hispanics across the country told pollsters that they not only identified with Democratic proposals but felt as though that party was actually interested in their votes.
"Republicans have done a pathetic job of reaching out to people of color, something we’ve got to work on," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on Fox News, adding later, "Republicans acted as if they can’t get the vote, so they don’t try. And the result is, they don’t get the vote."
Concerns started to crop up during the primaries, however, that Latino votes could be a problem.
In January, Romney outlined a theory of "self-deportation," explaining that by making it harder for illegal immigrants who want to work in the U.S. but not become citizens to find jobs — leading them to go back to their home countries on their own.
"We’re not going to round people up," Romney said. "The way that we have in this society is to say, look, people who have come here legally would, under my plan, be given a transition period and the opportunity during that transition period to work here, but when that transition period was over, they would no longer have the documentation to allow them to work in this country.
"At that point, they can decide whether to remain or whether to return home and to apply for legal residency in the United States, get in line with everybody else.”
Between laws set up in many states across the country that were seen as anti-immigration, and the hardline stance against the DREAM Act — which Democrats who promoted it say offers students and members of the military a path to legal citizenship — the consensus is that Romney and the GOP drove Hispanics away from the party.
“Romney, during the primaries, put himself in a corner,” said Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “He went to the right of everyone in the Republican field, even respected conservatives, and the Latino and the immigrant community was not fooled."
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