In 2012, Mitt Romney got creamed with both Asian and Hispanic voters. Exit polls found President Obama winning 71% of the Hispanic vote and 73% of the Asian vote.
These demographic groups are exploding—Hispanics and Asians made up 22% of the country’s population as of 2011, up from 12% in 1990—so national Republican elites are desperate to find a way to appeal to them. The centrepiece of that effort is finding a way to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
But Republican members of the House of Representatives aren’t going along. That’s probably because, as this chart shows, they’re still living in 1990.
Republican congressional districts are just 14% Hispanic and Asian. The GOP’s problem with non-white voters is a crisis for the party nationally and at the state level, but it doesn’t impact House Members’ re-election prospects very much.
Overall, Republican congressmen live in a world that’s way whiter than their Democratic colleagues’. 82% of Republican constituents are white, compared to just 65% of residents of Democratic districts. That’s why Republican members of Congress are pretty sanguine about the party’s lack of appeal to non-white voters even while Republicans hoping to win national elections are panicking.
And if Republican congressmen aren’t sweating the Hispanic vote too much, it’s probably because their constituents as less than half as likely to be Hispanic as Democrats’. Many of those Hispanic residents are non-citizens; given that Romney lost Hispanics so badly last year, it’s easy to understand Republicans’ lack of eagerness to make them citizens and therefore eligible voters.
On yet another issue, differing incentives for individual members of Congress and the party as a whole are going to prevent the Republican Party from changing in a way that improves its national appeal.