What We Learned From Thursday's GOP Debate

The stakes were high for Rubio. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The GOP stage is a lot less crowded now, and the tone was a lot calmer than the candidates' previous meeting. It's down to four candidates in the Republican presidential primary race, and time is running out for those party leaders who want to stop front-runner Donald Trump. (He managed to mention that former candidate Ben Carson would endorse him, which happened on Friday).  

During Thursday's CNN debate in Miami, which took place less than a week before the Florida primary and other winner-take-all contests that will more heavily influence the delegate count, Sen. Marco Rubio was under pressure to make his case in his home state.  

What We Learned From Wednesday's Democratic Debate

Sanders entered the debate after a close primary win in Michigan. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call)

The day after former secretary of state Hillary Clinton won a big primary victory in Mississippi and Sen. Bernie Sanders kept the race going with an upset victory, a close one, in Michigan, the two faced off in Miami. Broadcast on CNN  in English, and on Univision in Spanish, immigration was just one of the issues the candidates covered. Differences with Republicans were stark.  

Why Female Trump Voters Think He'll Widen the GOP Tent

Trump greets supporters after a campaign rally at the Crown Center Coliseum in Fayetteville, N.C, on Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The Republican establishment, after his three Tuesday night wins, continues to fret that Donald Trump is costing the party support among the demographics it most needs to court: Hispanics and women. And the candidate's behavior at a rally here Wednesday night — his second in the state this week — didn't give them any reason to feel comfortable with the idea of him becoming the nominee. It was another exercise in eviction. "This is lots more fun than a Trump rally, right?” the GOP front-runner yelled, watching as police in the Crown Coliseum forcibly removed protesters An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday showed 60 percent of voters think Trump is hurting the GOP's image. Some conservatives echoed those concerns at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington last weekend.  

But Republican primary voters in the NBC/WSJ poll were almost evenly split about whether Trump is positive or harmful to the party. Plenty of Trump's supporters, especially women for whom the economy is more important than social issues, told Roll Call they believe Trump is actually widening the GOP tent by bringing in not just new voters, but voters who see him as more willing to negotiate than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.  

James Clyburn Backs Clinton Ahead of South Carolina Primary

Clyburn backed Clinton a week before South Carolina's Democratic primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn backed Hillary Clinton on Friday — lending a powerful endorsement in her presidential bid a week before his state's nominating contest.  

"My heart has always been with Hillary Clinton," Clyburn said at a news conference at Allen University in Columbia. "But my head had me in a neutral corner." After talking with his family, Clyburn said, "I have decided to terminate my neutrality and get engaged."  

Sanders, Clinton Scrap Way to Nevada Town Hall

This must be the place -- that Clinton and Sanders will meet on Thursday evening for their Nevada town hall, the Gehry-designed Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

LAS VEGAS — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders head into Thursday's town hall here as polls show a tightening and tense race among Nevada's Democrats.  

The town hall's setting is the architecturally wild Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, a swirly, curvy building whose lines resemble the state of a race that few initially expected to be close. A CNN/ORC poll of likely Nevada caucus-goers shows a dead heat, with Clinton polling at 48 percent and Sanders at 47 percent. The poll's 6-point error margin means it's anyone's guess how voters will cast their preferences when they head to caucuses throughout the Silver State on Saturday. Republicans will caucus on Tuesday. The poll, conducted from Feb. 10-15, lands as the race has gotten a bit testy. A Clinton aide irritated some Nevada Democratic leaders by suggesting that the state was not that diverse. And Sanders staffers ran afoul of the state's largest labor union by donning union pins to gain access to members in their workplaces.  

Scalia's Death Adds More Uncertainty to North Carolina Elections

Ellmers faces a competitive March 15 primary that may be delayed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Primary day is less than a month away in North Carolina, home to two of this cycle's more competitive Republican House primaries. A court order to redraw the state's map by Friday had already thrown into question the March 15 primary, but Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death this weekend is adding extra uncertainty to when the state's congressional elections will take place.  

The General Assembly's joint legislative redistricting committee held public hearings Monday to discuss how to draw a new map, and on Tuesday, the committee agreed that race would not be considered when revising districts. The joint redistricting committee also agreed to maintain the current partisan split: Republicans control 10 congressional seats and Democrats control three. A map proposal isn't expected until Wednesday, on which the full General Assembly would then vote on Thursday and Friday in a special session.  

Redistricting Case Could Delay North Carolina's Primary

Ellmers faces a March 15 primary, but there's now speculation that will be pushed back because of redistricting litigation in North Carolina. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

By moving up all its primaries from May to March 15, North Carolina thought it would be playing a more pivotal role in this year's presidential election. But a recent federal court ruling invalidating two of the state's congressional districts threatens to delay this year's earlier-than-normal primary and upend elections in which early voting is already under way.  

A three-judge panel ruled on Feb. 5 that the GOP-legislature relied too heavily on race in 2011 to draw the 1st and 12th Districts. The court gave the state until Feb. 19 to draw new districts, and on Tuesday, the same court denied a request from the state to stay its decision.  

Survey: Cruz Attack on Trump Helps ... Trump

A new study suggests Cruz's attacks on Trump might not be working. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new survey suggests that a Ted Cruz ad attacking Donald Trump on his "New York values" only strengthens his appeal among blue-collar voters. In a survey conducted by Qualtrics , an enterprise survey platform, and political research firm Evolving Strategies, 1,200 self-identified Republican voters were shown one of four ads: one supportive of Donald Trump, one by a pro-Cruz super PAC criticizing Trump, one supportive of Cruz, and a 'placebo' ad with no political content.  

While Cruz's attack on Trump did appeal to middle-class voters, blue-collar voters doubled-down in their support for Trump after watching it.  

Obama Tries to Build Bipartisan Redistricting Momentum

Obama called for bipartisan groups to take over redistricting during his final State of the Union. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Calling for a systematic change to American politics in Tuesday's State of the Union, President Barack Obama gave a somewhat surprising shout-out to bipartisan redistricting reform.  

“I think we've got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters and not the other way around," he said, before going off script to add, "Let a bipartisan group do it."  

Judges Select New Virginia Congressional Map

Virginia's new map would make Forbes' district more Democratic. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A federal three-judge panel selected a new congressional map for the 2016 elections Thursday.  

The map is one of two proposed maps that a court-appointed special master — in this case a political science professor at University of California, Irvine — released in November 2015 that would give Democrats a shot at picking up another seat. Currently, Democrats hold three of the state's 11 congressional seats. The new map would increase the black voting age population in the 4th District, currently held by GOP Rep. J. Randy Forbes. Several Democrats have already expressed interest in running for his seat.