“You’ve just abandoned the Reagan Democrats with this amnesty bill. It was the loss of working class voters in swing states that cost us the 2012 election, not the Hispanic vote.... You disrespect Hispanics with your assumption that they desire ignoring the rule of law.”
— Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) in a Facebook post titled “Great Job, GOP Establishment, June 28, 2013
Given how many variables can affect a national election, it is sometimes foolhardy to suggest one group or another swung the election. For instance, President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney split 49-49 percent among heterosexuals, while Obama overwhelmingly (76-22 percent) won the votes of gays. But just focusing on that fact would ignore the efforts made by Obama to reach out to other groups to build his winning coalition.
Palin’s comment, posted in response to bipartisan passage of a comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate, struck us as interesting because it assumed Romney lost the so-called Reagan Democrats and that Hispanic voters do not favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. What do the data show? (We were assisted by Scott Clement, analyst at The Washington Post’s Capital Insight, in finding some of these data.)