March 19 2013
The GOP's Soul Searching
Congratulations, Mitt Romney!
People over thirty elected you to the high honor of serving as president of the United States.
That is an astonishing fact noted by John Podhoretz this morning in a column on the GOP’s release of its “Growth and Opportunity Project” document (which might better be entitled Why We Lost in 2012):
Most important, perhaps, is this simple data point: Romney won Americans over the age of 30 by 1.8 million votes. Obama won Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 by 5 million votes.
And, of course, as Lena Dunham said, it’s the first time you’ll always remember:
As a rueful senior Romney adviser told me after the election, those first votes cast are powerful ones, and they inaugurate a lifetime of voting: The best indicator of whether you will be a voter in the future is whether you have voted in the past. The two Obama campaigns have created millions of Democratic voters who won’t turn Republican easily, to put it mildly.
So yes, the GOP is on a downward slope, and, yes, it has become unappealing to exactly the people who are likely to dominate voting patterns well into the future.
There were reportedly some good recommendations in “Growth and Opportunity,” such as improving the primary system, which proved disastrous in 2012, and beefing up outreach to minorities. I haven’t read the report yet, but from what I am reading it sounds like there is just a bit of Stockholm Syndrome at work.
One of the findings of the report seems to be that people see the GOP as older, white males. I was just at CPAC and as I said yesterday, CPAC could have done a better job of talking about the women’s vote. But there were a lot of young people at CPAC. But it was the wingtip young people. I am wondering if the report dealt with the real issue when it comes to the GOP and young voters: the party is not seen as “cool.” Old, white, male may be shorthand for uncool.
Suffering apparently from Stockholm Syndrome, the GOP report deals mostly with painting a picture of the GOP. Sorry to say it but maybe we need a report on the electorate, which has changed over the last few decades and which has two constituencies, women and African-Americans, whom the GOP will have a hard time reaching : How can the GOP attract more women and African Americans, when we know that women and African Americans who become Republicans will face a barrage of vicious assaults from a well-oiled Democratic smear machine? How can the GOP reach younger people, who buy the idea that it is uncool? Big problem. I hope the answer isn’t by becoming more shallow.
In short, it also doesn’t sound as if the report dealt sufficiently with the issue of campaign tactics. The Romney campaign, which was built on the notion that President Obama had made such a mess that he was likely to lose, didn’t adjust and reverse its tactics when, after first contact with the other side, it was apparent that this message wasn’t working. Accused of causing a woman’s death, Romney professed himself “disappointed” by the other side.
It's a tall order: how can the GOP reach constituencies that "belong" to the Democrats? Since immigration reform is likely to increase the number of lean-Democrat voters (sorry but it's so), the GOP has problems. I must note that IWF's "Women in the Wilderness" panel explored the issue of how to speak to women without abandoning principles. Let's hope it was only the beginning of a discussion the GOP needs to have.