For instance, consider the idea that a softer line on immigration will boost Republicans’ electoral prospects by helping win over Hispanic voters. There’s no doubt that Republicans will have to find a way to improve their standing among this growing demographic group to compete in national elections. But it isn’t necessarily clear that immigration is the answer. According to a Pew Hispanic Center survey released in October, just 34 percent of Latino registered voters considered immigration to be “extremely important” to them. That trailed education (55 percent); jobs and the economy (54 percent); health care (50 percent); the federal budget deficit (36 percent) and barely edged out taxes (33 percent). It’s quite possible, in other words, that Republicans could back some form of amnesty for illegal immigrants, and still find that they don’t improve among this voting bloc. Also, a softer line on immigration could hurt Republicans’ ability to win over working class voters who feel threatened by cheaper labor, and working class voters are a bloc that another contingent of pundits views as crucial to GOP comeback chances…

In 2004, when John Kerry lost to a vulnerable incumbent, a lot of conservative commentators and moderate Democrats argued that the party needed to move to the center. Yet two years later, Democrats took over Congress on an even more strident anti-war message. By 2008, all of the major Democratic candidates offered universal health care plans that were more ambitious than even the liberal Howard Dean’s four year’s earlier, and President Obama won a landslide with a liberal policy platform. In the 2010 midterms, Democrats lost control of Congress, as opposition to his health care law fueled a Republican surge. Yet last week, Americans reelected Obama, even though it would ensure that law gets implemented.