Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

Victoria is a political scientist that got the political nerd bug in middle school student council. Today she hangs her hat at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and engages in political wonkiness on MSNBC, NBCNews.com, and Telemundo among others. more→

Research

Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding the politics, policies and people that shape our fascinating yet frustrating political landscape. Her areas of expertise include immigration, Latinos, women, political psych, & elections.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This piece originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Sen. Marco Rubio seems to have gone missing. Not missing from his Senate votes, like he was infamous for during his first term. Missing from the larger political conversation, especially when it comes to immigration and being a sober counterbalance to President Donald Trump.

During his time in the Senate, Rubio, R-Fla., has not always been a full-throated immigrant advocate. Nevertheless, he has always emerged as someone calling for the respect of immigrants and the need for sensible immigration reform.

Rubio was a member of the 2013 Gang of Eight Senate immigration reform bill. Rubio, the son of immigrants personally knows the relevance of immigration policy. And he also happens to have a mom that won’t let him forget his roots. At the outset of the Gang of Eight meetings, Rubio’s mom left him a voicemail in Spanish saying it was loving advice from the person who cared the most for him in the world.

“Don’t mess with the immigrants, my son. Please, don’t mess with them … They’re human beings just like us, and they came for the same reasons we came. To work. To improve their lives. So please don’t mess with them,” said his mom to the senator in a voicemail he has often quoted.

However, now Rubio is MIA and this in the midst of some real immigrant ugliness — even for Republicans. Earlier this month, Iowa Rep. Steve King tweeted, “We can’t restore our civilization with someone else’s babies.” Some Latino Republican members of Congress, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Florida Republicans, came out swinging against King in tweets of their own.

From Rubio, a deafening silence, not just on King’s tweet but on the larger wave of nonsensical immigration policy coming out of the Trump White House. The silence is frustrating to immigration reform advocates, but more than that, it’s puzzling. Politically, the stage is set for Rubio to be the adult in the room and to rise above the fray. (more…)

This post originally appeared on NBCNews.com

Marco Rubio has thrown his hat in the ring for the Senate race that just a couple of days ago he shunned. He enters the race a front-runner, but just barely. The obstacles that face him are not just numerous but messy.

The fact that Rubio has changed his mind and decided to run for the Senate instead of becoming a private citizen is not surprising. He is a political animal with the highest of political ambitions — his run for the presidency a case in point. And add to that a hard sell by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and fellow GOP colleagues to stay on.

There’s no question as to the motivation for Rubio to seek out a second chance. The question is whether Florida voters are willing to give him a do-over. And in deciding that, here are a couple of questions Floridians will have to ask themselves:

Are we just a consolation prize? (more…)

This piece originally appeared on NBCnews.com

Donald Trump has been thumping Marco Rubio—verbally and politically—for weeks. But the lethal blow came in Florida with Rubio coming in a distant second behind Trump. Just a few years earlier Florida had launched Marco Rubio as one of the brightest GOP stars. On Tuesday that star went dark. Florida turned its back on Rubio ending his 2016 presidential bid and perhaps his career in politics.

What was it? Was it that his boots were too high? That would be such a satisfying and simple answer if only it were that. Was it that his hair was not gray enough?

Again the answer is no. In any previous Republican primary that might have been the case given the old adage that “Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line.” But Donald Trump has upended the orthodoxy that Republican presidential aspirations need to wait their turn. Trump is one of the older candidates, but in terms of paying his political dues he’s as young as they come.

The demise of the Rubio presidential campaign was largely out of his control. Prior to Trump being taken seriously Rubio was seen as a top contender for the Republican nomination. Mega-donors were Rubio-curious and the Clinton camp was not looking forward to a matchup with the young Florida Senator.

Trump has surprised politicos, political watchers and voters alike. Yet the demise of Marco Rubio, not his campaign, was not inevitable. (more…)