Getting to yes on immigration

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President Barack Obama got 71 percent of the Hispanic vote on Election Day, while Mitt Romney was able to snag only 27 percent -- quite a comedown from the 44 percent President George W. Bush received when he was reelected in 2004.

Here's another striking number: Every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18 and become eligible to vote.

This stunning statistic emerged in a study of the Hispanic electorate by Resurgent Republic, a conservative nonprofit research group, and it was relayed by strategist Whit Ayres at the Bipartisan Policy Center's summit in New Orleans last week. The report highlights the promise and peril for the Republican Party in reaching Latino voters.

Of the 10.9 million Latinos registered to vote, 51 percent are Democrats and 18 percent are Republicans. But 54 percent of Hispanics identify as "conservative" while 39 percent say they are "liberal."

There are 21 million eligible Hispanic voters in this country. If the GOP hopes to pick up the 10 million-plus eligible but unregistered voters out there, it must have not only an appealing economic message but also a clear position on immigration. A majority of Latino independents want a humane and coherent policy that brings people out of the shadows and provides a path to citizenship. If Republicans can find a way to get to yes on that, they might be able to get back to Bush-level support.

opinion_commentary

Jonathan Capehart writes for The Washington Post.


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