The GOP national committee has issued a Republican Party report that calls for major change to win over groups that have been going heavily for Democrats in recent elections because, the report said, they don’t believe Republicans “like” them.
The report included feedback from focus groups, surveys, interviews with activists and consultants and was drafted by RNC members and GOP strategists.
The 100-page document covers a range of activities from member recruitment to improving data-gathering techniques.
A couple of things stand out. First, the recommendations seem more focused on logistics and following the numbers than really fully integrating alienated voters into the fold. Secondly, the problems it spent 100 pages addressing were abundantly clear from the results of the election and don’t seem to need a lot of deep analysis:
- The GOP’s analytics were off. Way off. The inability to accurately follow the numbers, determine where likely voters were leaning, poor polling and the lack of strong state-by-state organization led the Republicans to fool themselves into thinking they would win the 2012 election.
- Hispanics, young people, women and black people were not convinced the Republicans cared about them or the issues important to them. The party of “47 percent,” “self-deport” and just two people of color as committee co-chairs in the national party apparatus (and that was two black co-chairs appointed to run African American outreach) was surprised that those groups felt alienated by the party. Really?
- The Democrats had stronger voter contact and did a better job of getting its message – and its voters – out.
And yet, while calling on Republicans to be more inclusive, the report’s recommendations include a Growth and Opportunity Inclusion Council, a structure outside of the basic RNC apparatus, which would be layered with women, young people and folks of color to reach out to the communities missed in 2012, convince them there is room for them under the Republican tent but continue to leave the nuts-and-bolts operation of the party intact.
For young voters, party surrogates would get themselves booked on young, hip shows like “The Colbert Report,” “The Daily Show,” MTV and give interviews to “People,” “US Weekly” and similar magazines. They also want to get on popular radio shows that teens listen to. Perhaps they should check that last one. Teens don’t really listen to radio anymore. They upload their music to digital devices and skip ads and talky content.
In an apparent change of heart, Republicans now support early registration and voting and target registration on issues that resonate with various populations. The Obama campaign, the report noted, registered more than 1.8 million voters in 2012 and in some areas registered voters in larger numbers than the President’s margin of victory.
The RNC said in the report: “We have become experts 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.”
The report doesn’t say much about those issues, gun control, same-sex marriage, women’s reproductive rights and other health care issues, but did suggest compromise was needed on immigration policy.
“There’s no one reason we lost” in 2012, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday in announcing the report. “Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. And our primary and debate process needed improvement.”
What isn’t clear from the report is whether the RNC is sincere about reform or if it is merely seeking to chip away just enough voters from various groups to recapture the White House in 2016.
Jackie Jones, a journalist and journalism educator, is director of the career transformation firm Jones Coaching LLC and author of “Taking Care of the Business of You: 7 Days to Getting Your Career on Track.”