Nate Cohn

Staff Writer

Senator Marco Rubio’s immigration reform effort is in danger. It might seem like his presidential ambitions are in trouble, too. His numbers are down; Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz are starting to dominate the media’s discussion of 2016. In response, Rubio seems desperate to reestablish his conservative credentials, even by associating with a losing fight to defund Obamacare. That knee-jerk response calls Rubio’s political instincts into question, but his presidential chances are still alive, even if his immigration effort is on life support.

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Immigration reform isn’t quite dead yet, but the political fall-out of immigration reform’s demise is pretty clear: the GOP rebrand is going to be pretty tough. Despite relatively favorable circumstances, immigration reform advocates weren’t able to drag the party toward the center.

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One of the funny things about electoral politics is that you can’t always have the coalition you want, or even the coalition you think you’ll get. When the Democratic Leadership Council was thinking about how to rebrand the party in the late '80s, most figured they’d win back white southerners, like Jimmy Carter and every prior successful Democrat. But the new Democratic coalition was built on disaffection with conservatives, which was most pronounced along the coasts.

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One of the most frustrating discussions of 2012 was about voter identification laws. Voter ID laws seemed like they would disproportionately impact non-white, student, and elderly voters, who were widely assumed to tilt Democratic. There were big, flashy numbers about the number of registered voters without photo identification.

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The first wave of polls on the Zimmerman verdict are in and the results look familiar. Pew Research asked adults whether they were "satisfied" or "dissatisfied" with the Zimmerman verdict and the results were strikingly similar to the last presidential election. Compare today's poll on the Zimmerman verdict with Pew's final poll of the 2012 presidential campaign.

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I don’t usually take stances on people’s motives. I’m not a psychic and the evidence to back-up my suspicions is usually pretty poor. But in Pennsylvania, there’s not much question that the GOP’s newfound enthusiasm for stricter voting identification laws stems from the hope that they’ll deflate Democratic turnout. First, Pennsylvania’s Republican House Majority Leader said that voter ID would allow Romney to win Pennsylvania.

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Detroit was once the nation’s fourth most-populous city. Today, it became the largest American city to file for bankruptcy. The Motor City has been in decline for decades; its population peaked at 1.8 million in 1950 and declined to just 700,000 people in the last Census. Predictably, its economy faltered—especially over the last decade. The unemployment rate is over 18 percent; fewer than half of adult residents are employed.

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The "missing white voters" are coming under scrutiny. Ruy Teixeira and Alan Abramowitz question whether white voters are really trending toward Republicans, and they say that 2012 was really just a low turnout election.

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Yesterday's big political news was that Liz Cheney will challenge Senator Mike Enzi in 2014. A Republican is going to win this race either way, so there isn't much more at stake than the civility of dinner parties in Jackson. But when news about Wyoming's senator is dominating Twitter, it's worth remembering that we shouldn't really need to think about any of this. Wyoming probably shouldn’t get a Senate seat at all, let alone two.

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Just over two months ago, I wrote that Terry McAuliffe had to overcome a big challenge to win Virginia’s gubernatorial contest: a white and old off-year electorate. In a state where Democrats are dependent on non-white and young voters, McAuliffe would need to compensate for low turnout by faring much better among white and older voters than President Obama.

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