John Sides expects that the failure of immigration reform would have serious consequences for the GOP:
One prominent theory of party identification is that people identify with the party that they associate with social groups they like or belong to. So it’s not so much about policy, or what the parties “stand for.” It’s who the parties “stand with.” The challenge for the GOP is that even if it supports other policies that many Latinos support, its hostility to immigration reform may be the driving force behind a broader impression: that the Democrats are “the party of Latinos.” And once those impressions are formed, they are very difficult to change. As I’ve noted, the perception that the GOP is the “party of the rich” really has not changed for 60 years.
Now, how firmly established is any impression that the GOP is not “the party of Latinos”? Probably not that firmly established, especially in the minds of Latinos that are not yet citizens. Most are unaffiliated, as noted, and only 25% identify as Democrats and 3% as Republicans. But among those that are naturalized citizens? Nearly half, 44%, identify as Democrats and only 15% as Republicans. In other words, the 22-point advantage Democrats have among non-citizen Latinos becomes 29 points among Latino citizens. This, to me, suggests that the “political environment” is not currently working in Republicans’ favor.
And if immigration reform were to fail, it is hard for me to see the environment becoming any more favorable.
Nate Cohn argues that the GOP most definitely needs a large percentage of Florida’s Latinos:
If turnout patterns stayed the same, Republicans would need to win whites by 28 points to overcome demographic changes. Could Republicans do four points among Florida whites in 2016, let alone keep increasing at that rate in future elections? Perhaps. But what a gamble! Surely even a GOP optimist would concede the serious possibility that they cannot improve by so much. Not after doing so well among Southern whites, not after running up the score against a candidate who was such a poor fit for the state. Not in a state where white voters are reminiscent of whites nationally.
(Chart: Comparison of the racial composition of Republican and Democratic districts from Business Insider.)