"No doubt illegal immigration is a major roadblock for us," said Tom Del Beccaro, the vice chairman of the state GOP who is expected to take over the party chairmanship in elections next year. "But we need to work with Latinos on issues like education and jobs. Do we need to deal with immigration head-on? Yes. We still believe it's an issue of national security, economics and government reform.
"But as long as we stay focused on the most difficult aspect of it, we can't make progress," he added. "We can't make this so it's targeted at one particular group. We have to explain the broader context."
Republicans will have to stop mirroring their more conservative brethren around the country, said Kevin Spillane, a Republican consultant who helped run GOP attorney general candidate Steve Cooley's campaign. Cooley conceded the race Wednesday to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; the long-undecided race was the sole holdout from the Nov. 2 election, and the announcement officially gave Democrats a sweep of all statewide offices.
"One of the challenges facing Republicans is that California is more moderate than the rest of the country," Spillane said. "We need to establish an identity that's different than the national identity."
The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a leading voice on Latinos, today noted that the final exit polls on Election Day show that the GOP did better with Latino voters than many believed.
Final exit polls show that Latinos favored Democrats over Republicans in House races by a 60 to 38 percent margin in the midterm elections, compared to a 68 to 29 margin in 2008. This represents a 9 percent increase in Latino support for Republicans and an overall improvement of 17 points from the margin of difference House Democrats enjoyed in the previous election.