This week the RNC released a detailed report which is being dubbed as the “GOP Autopsy.” This is a report looking back at the 2012 elections, detailing why Mitt Romney lost and what the GOP needs to do to be successful in the future. You can download the document (PDF) here: You can download the PDF document here. I would encourage you to download and read it.
I want to applaud Reince Priebus for undertaking to write such a report. This shows that the party at understands there are serious problems we must understand and correct. There is much to be commended in the report.
First of all, the report recognizes that Republicans have an image problem. Republicans are viewed negatively by minority groups, women, and young voters. We need to do better with all of these groups. The task is made more difficult by the media watched by these groups, which is consistently liberal and anti-conservative.
There is also a recognition for the need for better messaging and better use of technology by the party. It is widely accepted that the president’s campaign exceeded the Romney campaign in this area. The Obama campaign set a new standard for intelligent use of technology and big data that must be matched by future Republican races.
I have two primary concerns about the report.
First of all I am concerned about the statements that the party must be more sensitive to the concerns of young voters especially concerning same-sex marriage (SSM). The impression left in the report is that the party must abandon opposition of SSM for fear of offending young voters.
It is true that many youth voters voice support for SSM, but much of that support is because they have been fed a steady diet of pro-gay marriage messaging in the popular media. Where is the plan to improve messaging to young voters in support of traditional marriage?
Also missing is any mention of the trade-offs between attracting young voters vs the votes that will be lost when traditional conservatives feel betrayed by the party.
The other concern I have is the lack of any real discussion about the tea-party and the impact it is having on the party. The tea party is primarily concerned about getting the budget under control and upholding constitutional constraints on federal power.
This is an area in which many grass-roots conservatives feel the national party is utterly failing. Year after year, GOP members of Congress profess their dedication to reducing the size and scope of government while the budget, deficit and debt all continue to spiral out of control.
GOP leaders rightly point out that Democrats in Congress are blocking their efforts. But where is the effective Republican message to convince soft Democratic voters to stand up and demand a change?
Overall there is much good in this report. But the “elephant in the room” remains. Will the GOP get better at persuading American voters that the conservative principles of responsibility and liberty are the best path to prosperity? Or will we compromise our principles for the sake of appeasing liberal voters?