I think Jeb Bush's flip-flop on immigration -- he used to support a path to citizenship for the undocumented, but now he says he doesn't -- reflects renewed confidence, on Jeb's part if not on the GOP's as a whole, that it'll still be possible to win a presidential election four years from now with just angry white guys, demographic trends be damned.
I think Jeb believes the Supreme Court will enable states and localities to find clever new ways to disenfranchise Democratic-base voters in 2014 and 2016; I think he thinks Republican austerity politics will be blamed on a Democratic president and seriously erode support for his party; and I think he thinks Republicans have enough money, and can hire enough brainiacs, to reverse-engineer the kind of sophisticated technology that the Obama campaign used last year.
Maybe this is naive on his part, but I wonder. I'm a huge skeptic about the notion that demography is consigning the present-day Republican Party to the dustbin of history. I also don't believe that the public even notices the party makeovers that mean so much to political insiders and mavens. The conventional wisdom is that Bill Clinton persuaded voters that his Democratic Party wasn't George McGovern's, a makeover Republicans need to emulate; I think the public just liked Clinton and was suffering Bush fatigue in an economic
It did matter that the press had bought into the notion of a remade Democratic Party, because it meant Clinton received a fair amount of positive media coverage; Jeb (or Marco, or whoever) needs that for 2016, so the press needs to think the party has been remade somewhat. But I don't think the Republican candidate actually needs to do a whole lot of remaking. The public just needs to be tired of the Democrats and willing to see the Republican as acceptable.
So Jeb is betting that he doesn't need to alienate the crazy base to win. He may be right.