"I agree with Mr. [Tom] Donohue, the head of the Chamber of Commerce," McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "It doesn't matter who we nominate. We'll [lose]."
McCain was referring to a statement made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president last month, that Republicans "shouldn't bother to run a candidate in 2016" if immigration reform doesn't pass Congress this year.
"I mean, think about that," he said. "Think about who the voters are."
Democrats in the House have adopted the line in trying to convince the Republican House leadership to schedule a vote an immigration reform bill that was approved by the Senate nearly a year ago.
Latinos, for whom the immigration debate is most salient, have voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the past several elections, a fact McCain remembers better than most. Although he co-authored an immigration reform bill in 2006, McCain lost two-thirds of the Hispanic vote to Obama in 2008.
And in 2012, when the official Republican Party platform supported encouraging efforts that would promote "self-deportation," Mitt Romney did even worse, with barely a quarter of Hispanics voting for him.
Congressional Democrats have given the July 4 recess as a deadline for when they believe the House would have to move on legislation if it stands a chance of passing before the end of the term.