The Latino Vote and the GOP-Sleeping giant or not?

Much has been written about the need of the GOP to get on board with immigration reform or risk losing the Latino vote in yet another national election.  The Monkey Cage for example asked provocatively whether the GOP stood to lose a whole "generation" of Latino voters with their foot dragging on immigration reform.  It is true that Latinos are the fastest growing minority population in the U.S. and that this group now constitutes a larger percentage of the U.S. population than African Americans.  Latinos are now 16% of the U.S. population.  But how many in this group are legally eligible based on their citizenship status, and how many who are legally eligible to vote actually turn out?

The Pew Hispanic Trust reported in 2012 that although a record 11.2 million Latinos turned out and overwhelmingly supported Obama, that group still lags behind other groups in terms of voter turnout. The Pew report stated the following:

Overall, 48% of Hispanic eligible voters turned out to vote in 2012, down from 49.9% in 2008. By comparison, the 2012 voter turnout rate among blacks was 66.6% and among whites was 64.1%, both significantly higher than the turnout rate among Hispanics.

... Latinos were also a larger share of the nation’s electorate in 2012, making up a record 8.4% of all voters, up from 7.4% in 2008. However, while 11.2 million Latinos voted in 2012, an even greater number—12.1 million—chose not to vote even though they were eligible to do so.

It may well be true as John Sides at the Monkey Cage states that sometimes voters go with the politic party that "stands with" them, but it is one thing to affiliate oneself or self-identify with a party and entirely another to register and actually turn out and vote. But can the GOP though afford to make that distinction as this group grows ever larger and especially in swing states?