If we may be forgiven for paraphrasing Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Republican Party have been greatly exaggerated.
It is common after losing a national election for the party that came in second to undergo what Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called an “autopsy.” Certainly, the Democrats did the same thing after losing presidential races in 1980, 1984 and 1988.
What emerged from the Democrats’ examination of “where did we go wrong” was the 1992 candidacy of Bill Clinton and a discernible move to the political center that has resulted in Democrats winning the popular vote in five out of six presidential elections.
So, now it is the Republicans’ turn. On Monday, the RNC and a group of project co-chairs put their “cards on the table face-up” in a 100-page report looking back on the 2012 campaign.
”Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive,” Priebus said. “We were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement. There’s no one solution. There’s a long list of them.”
It did not escape the GOP’s notice that while it won the white vote handily in 2012, it lost overwhelmingly among blacks, Hispanics, Asians, gays and young people.
”Public perception of our party is at record lows,” said Sally Bradshaw, one of the co-chairs. “Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents and many minorities think Republicans don’t like them or don’t want them in our country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they aren’t likely to open their ears to us.”
A lot of that can be attributed to the long primary process in which eventual nominee Mitt Romney suggested that undocumented residents “self-deport” back to their home countries. Romney’s infamous 47 percent speech when he didn’t know he was being recorded also didn’t help minorities love the GOP.
The party knows it must do far better than the 29 percent of Hispanic votes Romney received.
”Immigration reform will not occur until conservative Republicans, like myself, become part of the solution,” prospective 2016 candidate Rand Paul said in a speech at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit on Tuesday. “I think the conversation needs to start by acknowledging we aren’t going to deport 12 million illegal immigrants. If you wish to work, if you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you.”
That’s a good start. If that kind of inclusive thinking catches on in the Republican Party, it can not only end all the silly talk about it disappearing, it can start winning national elections again.