A short but compelling lesson in history: Leading up to the 2010 elections, polling showed immigration to be the second most important concern of Latinos (after the economy). Still Alex Sink, a 2010 Florida candidate for Governor, and her gubernatorial campaign made a strategic decision to deemphasize immigration and the Latino vote.

The biggest political story over the past week didn’t involve a bus tour, sordid tweets sent from a congressman’s account or even the posturing over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Instead, it was the no-thrills release of a 16-page report by the Census bureau, which underscored a massive paradigm shift in how politics is conducted.

Today, the Washington Post looked at the changing demographics of North Carolina. Obama won that state in 2008 by a slim margin. Both parties intend to make a play for NC’s electoral votes. Overall, the state is changing demographically and politically. In North Carolina, the Latino population grew by 111.13% from 2000 to 2010 now constitute 8.4% of the population.

Back in the early 80s, during Dan Lungren’s first stint in Congress, he supported immigration reform – just like his fellow Californian, then-President Ronald Reagan. But not anymore. Lungren is unabashed about his anti-immigrant views.

Georgia has been arresting student activists, ignoring the state’s civil rights history, and snubbing protests from business, immigration, and faith groups in order to pass its own state immigration bill, an SB 1070 copycat. The problem? Georgia will soon gain a new seat in Congress, largely due to growth in the state’s Latino population.

In California’s 2010 race for Governor, Meg Whitman (R) lost — and lost the Latino vote to Jerry Brown (D) by a stunning margin of 86-13%. She’s now expressing concerns about her party’s stance on immigration. Yet, a fellow California, Rep. Elton Gallegly, who chairs the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration, is defining the GOP through his hard-line anti-immigration views. His efforts to pass a mass deportation strategy, couched as “attrition through enforcement,” could ruin the state’s economy – and his party’s prospects with Latino voters.

The explosive growth of the Hispanic population reflected in the 2010 census will remake the electoral map—and could present Republicans with a challenge. Republicans have broadly benefited from the nation’s continued population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to right-leaning Sun Belt states in recent decades, and those states are again expected to add seats in Congress in the next election.

For some time now, we’ve been noting to our readers that the Latino population is growing – fast. Our factual reports based off of the 2010 census are often followed by warnings, sometimes to Obama to keep his promise on passing immigration reform, but often to the GOP to soften their stance on issues that are important to Latino voters — one of which happens to be immigration reform. Yesterday, Patrick O’Connor of the Wall Street Journal helps make our case.

Earlier this week, we released a new report from America’s Voice that examines (and demolishes) the claim that Republicans can maintain a hard line on immigration reform and still court the Latino vote simply by running Latino candidates. We continue our coverage today with Governor of New Mexico Susana Martinez.

GOP Congressman Lamar Smith has once again asserted himself as his party’s leading strategist on the Latino vote. He’s taking issue with Chris Cillizza’s recent analysis of census numbers,”The Republican’s Hispanic Problem.” Smith, who supports mass deportation, is desperately trying to get his fellow Republicans deny the facts and trends on Latino voters.