RNC admits voters see GOP as 'scary' and 'out of touch'
In what party chair Reince Priebus calls an "autopsy" of the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee has taken the first step in attempting to reform the party's infrastructure, as well as rebrand the party image to make it less white, less male, and more diverse.
It's an ambitious plan to be sure. But can it work?
"There's no one reason we lost," Priebus said. "Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren't inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement. ... So, there's no one solution: There's a long list of them."
The report devotes many pages to the need to better connect with minority, female and young voters. Comprehensive immigration reform is a critical first step, it says.
"It doesn't matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies," it states. "In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party's position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door."
Post-election focus groups with voters drove home the party's shrinking demographic appeal, the report says.
"Asked to describe Republicans, they said that the Party is 'scary,' 'narrow minded,' and 'out of touch' and that we were a Party of 'stuffy old men,'" it states.
Though it steers clear of the gay marriage debate, the report also says Republicans need to be more tolerant of gays if it is to have any chance among younger voters. People younger than 30 cast 5 million more votes for Barack Obama than Romney, it says.
"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," it says.
The report is long on lists of ailments, but shorter on specific fixes. There are recommendations for better outreach and more focused efforts, but little discussion about the policies and specifics that the party would sell while reaching out to different types of voters.
Beyond immigration, it barely touches on policy. That was by design, according to the report, because it's not the RNC's purview. Still, policy is no small part of the GOP's internal debate now, which underscores the limitations of what a party committee can do.
Why the leadership is convinced that immigration reform is the key to winning a larger slice of the Hispanic vote is beyond me. Polls show that GOP support for reform barely moves the needle. It may have a psychological impact but agreeing that there should be a path to citizenship for illegals is just as likely to anger as many law-abiding Hispanics as it attracts.
I don't know what the answer is, but it isn't to be found in catering to the issues of minority groups. It's insulting to them and reveals that the GOP lacks principles.
The worst of both worlds.