GOP’s efforts to rebrand itself aren’t going very well


THIS gives me a distinct sense of schadenfreude:

The Republican Party’s road map for winning presidential elections looks hazier than ever as GOP lawmakers and others reject what many considered obvious lessons from Mitt Romney’s loss last year.

House Republicans are rebelling against the key recommendation of a party-sanctioned post-mortem: embrace “comprehensive immigration reform” or suffer crippling losses among Hispanic voters in 2016 and beyond.

Widespread rejection of warnings from establishment Republicans goes beyond that, however. Many activists say the party simply needs to articulate its conservative principles more skillfully, without modifying any policies, even after losing the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections.

Despite Romney’s poor showing among female voters, House Republicans this past week invited renewed Democratic taunts of a “war against women” by passing the most restrictive abortion measure in years.

Despite corporate fears of the economic damage that would result from a default on U.S. obligations, GOP lawmakers are threatening to block an increase in the government’s borrowing limit later this year if President Barack Obama won’t accept spending cuts he staunchly opposes.

Republicans have lots of time to sort out their priorities and pick a nominee before 2016. They may need it.

Party activists appear far from agreed on even basic questions, such as whether to show a more conservative face to voters versus a moderate face, and whether to seek a libertarian-leaning, tea party-backed nominee as opposed to a more traditional Republican such as Romney.


From a presidential campaign standpoint, motivating the party’s base is only half the battle, said Dan Schnur, a former top Republican aide who teaches political science at the University of Southern California. The other half, he said, is attracting centrist voters who determine general elections in crucial states.

But a Republican House member who reaches out to moderate voters could invite a challenge from the right in his next GOP primary, Schnur said. “Doubling down on social conservatism is a perfect strategy for maintaining or expanding a House majority,” he said, but it won’t win the up-for-grabs voters a presidential nominee must have.


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