President Obama’s plan to defer deportation and grant work permits for up to five million undocumented migrants is having two utterly predictable results: outrage from congressional Republicans, and speculation about how the politics will play in 2016.
The country’s growing Hispanic population was widely credited with tipping Mr. Obama’s re-election in 2012. Just about every post-2012 analysis found that the Republicans needed to do better among Hispanic voters in 2016. Whether politicians agree with that assessment might shape their reaction to Mr. Obama’s decision, and might even underlie Mr. Obama’s decision itself.
Yet a close look at demographic data and recent election results suggest that the Republicans do not necessarily need significant gains among Hispanic voters to win the presidency. Yes, the next Republican presidential candidate will be making a big gamble if he or she doesn’t make meaningful gains among Hispanic voters, especially in Florida. But the Hispanic vote cannot single-handedly determine the presidency, as one could be forgiven for believing based on post-2012 election commentary.