The soul-searching and the possible nominees for next time around are closely linked. Romney lost Hispanics to Barack Obama by 69 points to 29 and blacks by 93 to six.

More than two-thirds of voters believed that illegal immigrants should have some kind of ‘path to citizenship’. But in the primary, Romney had argued that the millions of illegals should be forced to ‘self deport’.

At just 41, Rubio is among the next generation of Republican leaders. The son of Cuban immigrants, he is endowed with charisma, hails from the swing state of Florida and has political experience – he is a former speaker of the state house – and is adored by the Tea Party wing of the party.

But nominating a Hispanic candidate or even modifying the party’s immigration stance will not be enough.

A broader problem for the Republican party is that among voters who wanted a president who ‘cares about people like me’, Obama won by 81 per cent. 

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