Smart Republican strategists—yes, they do exist—acknowledge that their party’s loss of Latinos was critical to President Obama’s re-election. Alienated by Mitt Romney’s call for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants, a whopping 75 percent of Latino voters backed Obama. And they turned out in large enough numbers—nearly 13 million voted, roughly 10 percent of all ballots cast—to make a decisive difference in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to the website Latino Decisions, which tracks Latino politics.
What hasn’t been recognized is Latinos’ potential to play a similar role on climate change: providing the electoral muscle to compel politicians to get serious, finally, about the crisis. Just as Latinos overwhelmingly supported Obama over Romney, they also—along with African-Americans, Asian-Americans and youth of all races—demonstrate the highest levels of support for action against climate change and air pollution, according to extensive polling data.