GOP Issues Scathing Self-Analysis
Read the full report here: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/RNCreport03182013.pdf
The national Republican Party released a scathing self-analysis Monday that party leaders hope will be the first step toward returning the GOP to a winning track after its election losses of November.
The report, issued by a Republican National Committee task force, minces no words.
"Public perception of the party is at record lows," the report says. "Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us."
In page after page, the report—compiled over the past several months by five veteran GOP campaign operatives—describes the party as ideologically ossified, unable to speak to a wider electorate and increasingly seen as representing the rich and the old.
In focus groups, voters who said they had left the Republican Party described the GOP as "scary," "narrow minded," "out of touch," and as the party of "stuffy, old men."
Unless something changes, the report says, "it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future."
Totaling nearly 100 pages, the Republican National Committee's Growth and Opportunity Project is the product of thousands of interviews and of focus groups conducted by a team that included former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, Mississippi RNC committeeman Henry Barbour and longtime Florida campaign operative Sally Bradshaw.
The report delves mainly into the details of party outreach, messaging and campaigning, intentionally eschewing the far more divisive subject of policy stances.
But the task force does offer some basic advice to the wider conservative movement: that the GOP must embrace "comprehensive immigration reform," and on social issues "must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming."
The report comes at a moment when Republicans aligned with the tea party and insurgent candidates are arguing that conservatives should reject the guidance of party insiders and consultants, urging that they look instead to the GOP's conservative grass roots for renewal. The recommendation from the RNC panel to revise immigration laws could prove especially controversial. The main overhaul plan under consideration in Congress would grant legal status and citizenship to illegal immigrants, which many in the GOP see as a form of amnesty for people who broke U.S. law.
In an advance copy of a speech he plans to give Monday morning responding to the report, RNC chairman Reince Priebus lays out a number of the steps the party plans to make swiftly to begin to regroup.
Noting that there was no single reason the GOP lost the presidential election, Mr. Priebus lists several: "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."
To rebound, the party is planning a large-scale marketing and outreach campaign over coming months, reaching into neighborhoods and regions of the country where Republicans don't usually fare well, Mr. Priebus will announce, according to his speech.
The task force also offers a litany of recommendations on improved campaign tactics, saying the party should move away from spending huge sums on TV advertising and put greater emphasis on grassroots efforts to rally supporters door to door.
But the most striking portions of the report are those in which the party engages in unusually critical self-assessment.
"The perception that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the party and its candidates on the federal level, especially in presidential years," the report says, noting a trend picked up widely in polls last year. "It is a major deficiency that must be addressed."