Greg Sargent at The Washington Post on the implosion of the GOP brand. "Republicans successfully converted the 2010 elections into a referendum on President Obama. ... As a result, they won big. Now Democrats are hoping to turn the 2014 elections into a referendum on the GOP brand and the destructive excesses of Tea Party governance," Sargent explains. GOP popularity has crumbled in four key constituencies: women, seniors, independents, and white college grads, according to a new Post poll. Sargent writes, "There is still plenty of time for the current political atmosphere to change, of course. But the possibility of more GOP crises and chaos governing in 2014 – which could reinforce current public impressions of the GOP – remains very real." Christine Matthews, the president at Bellwether Research, tweets, "Among college educated women: GOP 74 percent unfavorable. That turns states like VA, NC, PA blue." Justin Green, the online editor at the Washington Examiner, jokes, "Why Republicans should stop listening to @SenTedCruz, in one chart."

Marin Cogan at National Journal on why Republicans "kill their darlings." "In the past year, the party has cycled through one favorite [presidential] aspirant after another before running into a problem: There's no longer a single consensus about what makes a good candidate. Inevitable deviations from conservative orthodoxy are seen as disqualifying sins," Cogan explains. Right now it's Cruz, before that Sen. Marco Rubio, before that Gov. Chris Christie. "It's enough to make Rand Paul seem like their best option — until you consider that he's angered the Tea Party by supporting immigration reform, the establishment by espousing isolationist foreign policy views, and his own libertarian base by supporting Mitt Romney in 2012." Why do Republicans shuffle through favorites so quickly? "GOP strategist Rick Wilson calls this 'the Highlander theory,' after the '90s TV show about the Scottish warrior who needs to behead other immortals because there can be only one." Jared Keller, the social media editor at Al Jazeera America, tweets, "How Highlander explains Republican party politics." 

Matthew Continetti at The Free Beacon on the success of the Center for American Progress. "Over the last decade the Center for American Progress, also known as CAP, and its political arm, the CAP Action Fund, have established themselves among the most influential policy and activist organizations in America," Continetti writes for the conservative-leaning site. CAP has an extreme pull on the Democratic party, and "the right has no equivalent." CAP and its website, ThinkProgress, have relentlessly pushed progressive issues: their "anniversary video cites three issues — Iraq, health care, and green jobs —where the organization’s ideological impact has been most apparent. We are out of Iraq, we are enduring Obamacare, and though clean energy cronyism may have paused during You Decide 2012, now it’s back." Conservatives don't have such a dominating ideas machine. Bottom line: "Who was the keynote speaker at last night’s [CAP party]? One Hillary Rodham Clinton." Alex Seitz-Wald, a reporter at the National Journal, tweets, "Smart piece from @continetti in @FreeBeacon on the Center for American Progress. Yes, really."

Maria Konnikova at The New Yorker on anonymous online commenters. "One of the most common critiques of online comments cites a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying, a phenomenon that the psychologist John Suler memorably termed the 'online disinhibition effect,'" Konnikova explains. But anonymity can also encourage participation and creativity. Should publications ban comments? Maybe not: "A ban on article comments may simply move them to a different venue, such as Twitter or Facebook — from a community centered around a single publication or idea to one without any discernible common identity. Such large group environments, in turn, often produce less than desirable effects." The Guardian's social and communities editor, Joanna Geary, tweets this line from the piece: "New communication technologies do not fundamentally alter the theoretical bounds of human interaction."

Wesley Morris at Grantland on viewing pop culture through the lens of the film 12 Years a Slave. "You sometimes think the n-word has lost its power to appall, and yet every time it is used in 12 Years a Slave — as an appellation, a title, or a matter of fact — it hurts," Morris writes. Which makes its casual use in today's music more disconcerting: "The racist deployment of the n-word here only makes it more depressing outside the theater ... or to listen to a 43-year-old superstar rapper use it nine times in a three-minute song about a white fashion designer" in reference to Jay Z's tribute to designer Tom Ford. Morris moves on to Miley Cyrus's VMA performance: "Cyrus couldn't have known the uncomfortable history she had reached into, what it means for black people to perform this sexually, this anonymously for a white woman." Kanye West's performace of "Blood on the Leaves" later in the same awards program offered "an incidental rebuke of the fiasco." Ben Williams, the editorial director at New York's website, tweets, "The Miley/Kanye/12 Years A Slave riff here is virtuoso."