Not Dead Yet?: The RNC Autopsy of the 2012 Election

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The Republican National Committee just published a 100-page report, the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” that critiqued the party's performance during the 2012 election. Part of the report focused on the GOP's perception and messaging and part focused on the party's campaign ground game.

The report offered some surprisingly harsh criticism of the party:

-- Insular and narrow-minded: "The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue."

-- Compassionate whatacism?: "The perception that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party and its candidates on the federal level, especially in presidential years. It is a major deficiency that must be addressed" and "Our ideas can sound distant and removed from people’s lives. Instead of connecting with voters’ concerns, we too often sound like bookkeepers."

-- Too white, too old, too male: "The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious our position has become. America is changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal the way GOP governors have done, the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction."

The report also made some interesting recommendations, though the authors went out of their way to say that they were not a "policy committee," which meant they couldn't quite come out and say "stop acting like racist f*cks" and "stay out of women's vajayjays."

Some recommendations clashed with the GOP's current modus operandi. For example, the report recommended that the GOP embrace early and absentee voting as well as promote voter registration. Those fly in the face of the GOP's actions during the last election cycle to increasingly restrict and limit voting and to effectively disenfranchise certain types of voters.

Overall, the report shows that the GOP is at a cross-roads and that it is battling itself. It singled out third-party groups, such as conservative news organizations, bloggers, and the like, and said that they were actively hurting the GOP's electoral chances by promoting ideological purity instead of new ideas. It also offered oblique criticism of the GOP's overtly partisan primary process by saying that "winning primaries is not enough" and that "to affect public policy, the Republican Party must win general elections and not only primaries."

An event at CPAC over the weekend put the gap between what the RNC report says needs to be done in order for the GOP to remain a viable political party and what it actually is today in stark relief. The RNC report cautioned that if the party really wants to appeal to minorities, women, gays, and the young it has to watch what it says:

The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect, and we need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles. In the modern media environment a poorly phrased argument or out-of-context statement can spiral out of control and reflect poorly on the Party as a whole.

As part of an effort to figure out how conservatives could better reach minority groups, CPAC had a panel discussion entitled "Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?" But that wasn't the punch line. The punch line was when the discussion leader explained how Fredrick Douglas forgave his slave master and an audience member quipped "For giving him shelter? And food?"

Sounds like the above could be summed up by saying "we need to get rid of the social conservative crazies."

I do have to call into question the idea that GOP governors, or state legislators are skilled at drawing in more moderate and liberal support. I think this is an accurate summation of Republican politics in New York or New Jersey. But many states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania jerry mander the districts to marginalize the influence of urban areas on the state as a whole. The city of lansing was carved up so that it is in 3 congressional, largely rural districts, as an example.

You really need to ask why many states consistently cast popular votes for Democratic Senators and Executive, but have overwhelmingly Republican state officials.

You have the likes of Scott Walker in Wisconsin talking about changing Wisconsin from a winner take all state, to make the jerry mandered districts work for the GOP.

Reince Pribus introed this to the world at the Washington Press Club the other day, without making any references to gay marriage or minority issues. His take was that Republicans already have the right policies.

So it's not exactly got traction yet, even in the group which produced it.

Robear wrote:

Reince Pribus introed this to the world at the Washington Press Club the other day, without making any references to gay marriage or minority issues. His take was that Republicans already have the right policies.

So it's not exactly got traction yet, even in the group which produced it.

Most telling, gays are mentioned exactly one time in the 100-page report. While there are special sections in there for how the GOP can reach out the Hispanics, Asian-Americans, blacks, and women, they oddly don't have a similar section for how they can make headway into the gay community.

I also heard an analysis on the PBS Newshour, I think, that said the report was written by "big tent" Republicans, but that it most definitely didn't represent the views of most Republicans.

OG_slinger wrote:

Most telling, gays are mentioned exactly one time in the 100-page report. While there are special sections in there for how the GOP can reach out the Hispanics, Asian-Americans, blacks, and women, they oddly don't have a similar section for how they can make headway into the gay community.

I also heard an analysis on the PBS Newshour, I think, that said the report was written by "big tent" Republicans, but that it most definitely didn't represent the views of most Republicans.

From the RNC spokesperson:

Sean Spicer, communications director for the RNC, said the party had no intention of distancing itself from its religious base.

"They are a critical part of our party, and moving forward, they have to continue to play that essential role," Spicer said. "The goal of the report was to look at areas where we could do much better, and in areas that needs that substantial improvement [working with conservative Christians] may not be at the top of the list because they've always done a fabulous job."

Spicer also insisted that while the GOP hopes to expand its coalition, "the principles in the party are sound" and would not be abandoned. Asked whether opposition to same-sex marriage was among those principles, he said, "Yes."

I think it is important, as Phoenix Rev notes, to not confuse that the RNC (except for a few speakers) has not reversed positions. More, they are taking a lesson from Strom Thurmond and just being hush about their less popular stances.

Any real change, would come out in the primaries in 2016. If a Republican front runner comes out in support of gay marriage (with any luck, the Supreme Court will lay that to rest), more open immigration, acknowledging that the earth is a bit older than 6,000, that climate change is real, etc. then we will know there is a change. Unfortunately for the party, and for Mitt Romney-you must profess that you are anti-science, know nothing (look it up), ordained by god to fight women. That wins primaries, and loses you the election.

On the other hand, the GOP can continue to run these to keep influence in the House, I have no doubt of that, given my previous interjection on the redistricting process.

I'm a bit puzzled by how the RNC expects to woo women--something it absolutely has to do if it wants to win elections--if it's announced that it's best of buds with the religious whack-a-doodles. I mean denying gays the right to marry and forcing a woman to undergo invasive and humiliating medical procedures anytime they want to control their reproduction are the chocolate and peanut butter of the religious right. They just go together.

And what will the GOP actually stand for if SCOTUS overturns Prop 8 and DOMA? The party of tax cuts for the rich?

OG_slinger wrote:

I'm a bit puzzled by how the RNC expects to woo women--something it absolutely has to do if it wants to win elections--if it's announced that it's best of buds with the religious whack-a-doodles. I mean denying gays the right to marry and forcing a woman to undergo invasive and humiliating medical procedures anytime they want to control their reproduction are the chocolate and peanut butter of the religious right. They just go together.

And what will the GOP actually stand for if SCOTUS overturns Prop 8 and DOMA? The party of tax cuts for the rich?

The party of repealing the voting rights act

And now, the RNC Chairman:

"I know our party believes marriage is between one man and one woman," Priebus told MSNBC's Luke Russert on Wednesday morning.

Striking a more conciliatory tone, Priebus added, "I also know that we have a party that's going to be inclusive and is going to listen to people ... That's the type of party that I want to continue to build."

So, the gays are welcome to join the party as long as they are willing to understand that the party won't support them.

Now, there's a winning strategy.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

And now, the RNC Chairman:

"I know our party believes marriage is between one man and one woman," Priebus told MSNBC's Luke Russert on Wednesday morning.

Striking a more conciliatory tone, Priebus added, "I also know that we have a party that's going to be inclusive and is going to listen to people ... That's the type of party that I want to continue to build."

So, the gays are welcome to join the party as long as they are willing to understand that the party won't support them.

Now, there's a winning strategy.

"Join us and try to get us to change from within!" sounds a lot like "I can change for the right woman, baby!"

Phoenix Rev wrote:

So, the gays are welcome to join the party as long as they are willing to understand that the party won't support them.

Now, there's a winning strategy.

It's actually a much larger problem for the GOP than simply not getting the LGBT vote.

The "Growth and Opportunity Project" report readily acknowledged that there's a massive generation gap when it comes to social issues like gay marriage. The current GOP might hate the idea of gays marrying, but there won't be a future GOP if they refuse to budge on the issue because the party won't attract younger voters.

"Growth and Opportunity Project" Report wrote:

Younger voters are increasingly put off by the GOP. A post-election survey of voters ages 18-29 in the battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Colorado found that Republicans have an almost 1:2 favorable/unfavorable rating. Democrats have an almost 2:1 favorable rating.

For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.

If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out. The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.

and

On messaging, we must change our tone — especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters. In every session with young voters, social issues were at the forefront of the discussion; many see them as the civil rights issues of our time. We must be a party that is welcoming and inclusive for all voters.

I almost feel sorry for the tightrope the GOP is having to walk between these points of view. Almost.

The RNC report cited gay marriage as a "gateway" issue that keeps many younger people (who have out friends and the like in much greater quantity than would have been seen even a decade ago) from joining the GOP ranks. And they identify the judgemental, close-minded rhetoric on policy topics as being another big put-off.

They *have* to change the message. The population is changing. You can't just be *nicer* and keep the same message; that's not change, and people notice. It's going to be a rough few years for the party ideologues as they adapt to change.

And, really, change is the only constant. Even conservatives can't last long with the idea that they can prevent or ignore it indefinitely. Conservatism was traditionally about change, in fact - change carefully considered and slowed as much as possible, to make sure it's safe. I argue that the biggest problem with today's conservatives is that they've either become radicals (massive change and damn the consequences) or they've burrowed into a cocoon of "we don't have to change, we'll keep the world the way it is now". While those two groups are fighting it out, the old school who could actually make conservativism relevant again through compromise and bipartisan goal-setting are being crushed and pushed out of office.

As things stand, they are going to wreck the train again. How many of those does it take to force them to, well, change? While it delights me to see these guys tear down their power structure, the damage they have done to the country in the process is immense.

Good article from Pew Research's Andrew Kohut in the Washington Post on how far the conservative base is out of the US mainstream, and why that will hinder any changes they try to make. Basically, polling shows that while the Republican base is at an all-time low, it's ideological diversity has also shrunk, and become more extreme than the average American position. This will make it harder for the Republicans to change their policies, but also means that if they hold to their current ideology, they will be so far out of the mainstream that they will lose more and more elections over time.

I see little reason to believe that the staunch conservative bloc will wither away or splinter; it will remain a dominant force in the GOP and on the national stage. At the same time, however, I see no indication that its ideas about policy, governance and social issues will gain new adherents. They are far beyond the mainstream.

Any Republican efforts at reinvention face this dilemma: While staunch conservatives help keep GOP lawmakers in office, they also help keep the party out of the White House. Quite simply, the Republican Party has to appeal to a broader cross section of the electorate to succeed in presidential elections.

This became apparent last fall. Voters generally agreed with the GOP that a smaller government is preferable to a larger, activist one, and therefore they disapproved of Obamacare. However, exit polls showed popular support for legalizing same-sex marriage and giving illegal immigrants opportunities for citizenship.

This combination of conservative and liberal views is typical. To win, both parties must appeal to the mixed values of the electorate. But it will be very hard for the Republican Party, given the power of the staunch conservatives in its ranks.

Robear wrote:

Good article from Pew Research's Andrew Kohut in the Washington Post on how far the conservative base is out of the US mainstream, and why that will hinder any changes they try to make. Basically, polling shows that while the Republican base is at an all-time low, it's ideological diversity has also shrunk, and become more extreme than the average American position. This will make it harder for the Republicans to change their policies, but also means that if they hold to their current ideology, they will be so far out of the mainstream that they will lose more and more elections over time.

I see little reason to believe that the staunch conservative bloc will wither away or splinter; it will remain a dominant force in the GOP and on the national stage. At the same time, however, I see no indication that its ideas about policy, governance and social issues will gain new adherents. They are far beyond the mainstream.

Any Republican efforts at reinvention face this dilemma: While staunch conservatives help keep GOP lawmakers in office, they also help keep the party out of the White House. Quite simply, the Republican Party has to appeal to a broader cross section of the electorate to succeed in presidential elections.

This became apparent last fall. Voters generally agreed with the GOP that a smaller government is preferable to a larger, activist one, and therefore they disapproved of Obamacare. However, exit polls showed popular support for legalizing same-sex marriage and giving illegal immigrants opportunities for citizenship.

This combination of conservative and liberal views is typical. To win, both parties must appeal to the mixed values of the electorate. But it will be very hard for the Republican Party, given the power of the staunch conservatives in its ranks.

Though this may be true, I still see them doggedly clinging to their stranglehold on state and local politics.

It's possible, but I think that it will require structural manipulation - gerrymandering, poll obstruction, that sort of thing.

Rep. Don Young on 'wetbacks' comment: I 'meant no disrespect'

Rep. Don Young says he “meant no disrespect” when he used the term “wetbacks.”

“My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young, an Alaska Republican, told a local radio station in a story posted Thursday

I meant no disrespect using a racist term? Wow. Not intended to be a factual statement part II?

Demosthenes wrote:

I meant no disrespect using a racist term? Wow. Not intended to be a factual statement part II? :lol:

He's sorry people were offended.

They weren't "legitimate wetbacks", these were the good ones. :eyeroll:

Politico wrote:

The word “wetback” is a slur often used to refer to undocumented immigrants, especially those from Mexico.

Ummm... Did I miss something? I thought that term referred to Cubans?

Demosthenes wrote:
Politico wrote:

The word “wetback” is a slur often used to refer to undocumented immigrants, especially those from Mexico.

Ummm... Did I miss something? I thought that term referred to Cubans?

A racist would say they're all the same.

Demosthenes wrote:
Politico wrote:

The word “wetback” is a slur often used to refer to undocumented immigrants, especially those from Mexico.

Ummm... Did I miss something? I thought that term referred to Cubans?

No, it was coined specifically about Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande.

I guess this is an area, like nicknames for drugs, that I just don't have enough experience in to even know what's being said about what. My wife talks about how someone she knew in high school got busted for smack and I'm just like... is that like pot bad or meth bad?

Hehe, neither?

In other news, old racist white dude reveals himself to be an old racist white dude with no self-awareness.

Demosthenes wrote:

I guess this is an area, like nicknames for drugs, that I just don't have enough experience in to even know what's being said about what. My wife talks about how someone she knew in high school got busted for smack and I'm just like... is that like pot bad or meth bad?

Urbandictionary is the friend of every old man and his lawn.

Demosthenes wrote:

I guess this is an area, like nicknames for drugs, that I just don't have enough experience in to even know what's being said about what. My wife talks about how someone she knew in high school got busted for smack and I'm just like... is that like pot bad or meth bad?

I knew, but had to confirm it on the internet to be sure I didn't have the wrong connotation myself. I grew up in rather racist St. Louis, so I guess that helps me learn the terms of bigotry. I think not knowing is better, though.

But you should really know your drug slang, though. That's inexcusable.

Looks like Rand Paul is re-branding himself as a "libertarian Republican", going for the evangelicals in a big way in the last few weeks and distancing himself from actual Libertarians. He also released a fund-raising letter that ranted against the UN (they want to take away all your guns) and accused Obama of working with "anti-American globalists" to usurp American sovereignty.

If you thought he was the voice of reason in the last election, well, I guess you dodged a bullet. Oh, and if you think that whole screed is a good thing and want to give them money, well, that's your business. But you'd best read Snopes first... Yeah. It's that kind of crazy...

Another manufactured "libertarian" showing his colors by changing them as the wind changes. What did he learn from the election? Probably the same thing his father learned in the 70's... Crazy sells. And he's headed for the new Republican mainstream in 2016, ditching his Libertarian supporters cynically in the process.

Robear wrote:

Another manufactured "libertarian" showing his colors by changing them as the wind changes. What did he learn from the election? Probably the same thing his father learned in the 70's... Crazy sells. And he's headed for the new Republican mainstream in 2016, ditching his Libertarian supporters cynically in the process.

And should he win the GOP nomination, the Democrats are virtually assured of retaining the White House, especially if Hillary runs.

Rand has long advocated that the Civil Rights Act should not apply to private businesses, thus reminding us that there are some who find non-discrimination public accommodations laws to be an earmark of an oppressed people.

Because, of course, the American people were the most free they had ever been when Woolworth's had segregated lunch counters.

I will say that the Obama Administration is doing everything in their power to bring a Republican back to the White House in the next election. They are close to RRoD status right now.

Can the Republicans run a legitimate candidate?

At the risk of starting the insanity of an Election 2016 thread, I'm actually kind of curious exactly who even looks remotely like a Presidential candidate for the Republicans at this moment. I don't mean that as a snide attack. I seriously cannot think of anyone who has the sort of backing, history, or support to get the whole party behind them eventually, whereas the Democrats have several such candidates.

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