• A GOP study shows why the party must draw support from women and minorities—and explains how to do it.

    Acknowledging mistakes is hard. Ignoring and repeating them is inexcusable. If the November elections bring disaster for the Republican Party, let no one say that the GOP has the right to make excuses.
     
    Newt Gingrich WSJ article

    Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 8, 2015. Photo:Associated Press

     

    That’s one takeaway of an intriguing new report, still yet to be released, commissioned by the Republican National Committee. The report, “2016 Election Principles,” was drafted by Newt Gingrich and reads as a treetop analysis of the GOP’s electoral track record over the past four years: highs, lows and lessons learned. It’s a clarion call to Donald Trump—as well as House and Senate candidates hoping to amass a winning coalition.

     
    The GOP’s 2012 “autopsy” was endlessly chewed over. So when things turned around in 2014 and 2015, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Mr. Gingrich teamed up to figure out what had gone right. What lessons had been learned? The resulting 20-page report synthesizes 30-odd “principles” that Mr. Gingrich presents as a framework for 2016 success.
     
    The real meat is a section that addresses the GOP’s most unanswered challenge: Winning minorities and women. “Demography is not destiny,” the report optimistically notes. “Demography is opportunity.” A series of case studies shows that Republicans can make gains among the Democratic base—if they do it right.
     
    It would be hard to do it more wrong than Mitt Romney in 2012. He paid scant attention to the minority community and flubbed on “self-deportation” and “binders full of women.” On election night Mr. Romney lost black voters 93% to 6%. He lost women 55% to 44%. He lost black women 97% to 3%—and the standing joke is that those three must have pulled the wrong lever.
     
    Mr. Romney lost Hispanics 71% to 27%. In Colorado he lost them 75% to 23%; in Nevada, 71% to 24%; in Virginia, 64% to 33%. All three of those states wound up in Barack Obama’s column. Had Mr. Romney matched George W. Bush’s 44% among Hispanics in 2004, he’d be running for re-election now.

     
    The RNC’s new report narrates the 2014 counterexamples of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, and Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock, who won stunning victories in states they were expected to lose. They did it not with minority “outreach” but with “inclusion.”
     
    The report derides “outreach” as “when the old order makes a decision and then calls the community leaders to inform them.” Compare that with “inclusion,” when “the community is in on the discussion before the decision.” The report explains: In every campaign it studied, “successful Republicans built minority events into their schedules, created advisory groups from leaders in the communities, developed internships for young people,” and generally showed they wanted to be involved in these communities.
     
    Cory Gardner became Colorado’s first Republican senator in a decade by defeating incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, 49% to 46%. What made victory possible was that Mr. Gardner tied Mr. Udall among Hispanics. Yet he was estimated in the January before the election to have only about 6% to 8% of Hispanic support. As a member of the U.S. House, Mr. Gardner had rejected portions of the Senate’s immigration bill.
     
    Rather than hide, he took his case on immigration—as well as his arguments for economic reform, stronger national security and increased energy production—to the Hispanic community. “Colorado Republicans worked Pueblo, a largely Hispanic area they had traditionally ignored,” reads the report. The Republican also deftly pre-empted Mr. Udall’s abortion attacks: He accused the Democrat of running a “one-issue campaign” and then pivoted to other issues that women cared about—like affordable drugs.
     
    Rep. Mike Coffman, a three-term Republican representing the moderate Denver suburbs, also faced an opponent who sought to slay him with immigration. Mr. Coffman responded by using Rosetta Stone tutorials to learn Spanish, and agreeing to the state’s first ever televised Spanish-language debate. It was a huge contrast to his Republican predecessor, Tom Tancredo, who’d once boycotted a Univision debate solely because he objected to its being translated into Spanish.
     
    Mr. Coffman’s Spanish wasn’t ace, yet the report notes that even his attempt increased his “acceptability” among people who had been trained to believe “they can’t vote Republican.” The Republican’s “willingness to debate on Spanish television lowered resistance to him drastically. Suddenly he became acceptable both to many Hispanics and to moderate whites.” Mr. Coffman blew the Democrat out of the water by 9 percentage points.
     
    Barbara Comstock’s focus was on making inroads with Virginia’s growing Asian community, now 5% of the state’s population. She attended ethnic events and festivals, and had continuous dialogue with leaders in the Pakistani, Indian, Chinese and Korean communities. She won a tough northern Virginia district, 56% to 40%. GOP Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie, using the same inclusionary tactics, nearly unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
     
    The report also runs through other examples: Ohio Gov. John Kasich won 27% of black voters in 2014. Texas Sen. John Cornyn won nearly half of Hispanics the same year. A bevy of women, Hispanic and Asian Republicans have made inroads at the state level, among them Jill Upson, who two years ago “won by more than 12 points to become the first African American Republican woman in the West Virginia House.” The report’s focus on inclusion mirrors House Speaker Paul Ryan’s antipoverty initiative, which rests on active engagement with afflicted communities to challenge the left on the politics of the poor.
     
    How to square all this with the current Republican presidential race? To listen to the likes of Heritage Action head Michael Needham, the rise of Mr. Trump is proof that Republicans need to channel anti-immigration rage and rail against amnesty. The way to win, goes the thinking, is to inspire vast numbers of the conservative grass roots to turn out on Election Day. What does it matter that, according to Gallup, Mr. Trump is viewed unfavorably by 77% of Hispanics? What does it matter that seven out of 10 women dislike The Donald?
     
    “If you want to become president, there are three hills to climb,” Mr. Gingrich tells me last week in an interview. “The smallest is the nomination. The next highest is the presidency. The highest is governing. And climbing those last two requires fighting in the new order.” That means “the morning you are certain you have the delegates to win” the nomination, he says, “you stop, take a deep breath, and figure out how to compete in all 50 states.”
     
    Is that even possible for a nominee who has offended entire groups with calls for deportation and bans on entering the country? Mr. Gingrich argues it is, though a lot will depend on the candidate’s language and willingness to campaign under the “inclusion” principle. The former House speaker has made some waves with his defense of Mr. Trump. “He’s got the biggest upsides and biggest downsides I’ve ever seen in any candidate,” Mr. Gingrich tells me. “But it is possible to engage, and to balance both enforcing the law and being compassionate.”
     
    Perhaps the bigger point of the report is that Republicans can’t allow themselves to be defined as defensive, single-issue candidates. The merit of an inclusionary campaign is that it positions the Republican to interact with minority communities on a host of issues. Some of these—the economy, jobs, education, health care, energy—may prove more persuasive than flashpoint cultural divides.
     
    To some degree it’s a question of increments. Many Republicans view minority opposition as insurmountable. Why try? Yet hard-fought presidential races come down to small margins in swing states. The difference between losing 97% of black women and only losing 90% could prove decisive. The rub is that winning over even those 7 percentage points will require an all-out, aggressive campaign—the likes of which no modern Republican presidential candidate has waged.
     
    The lesson of the Gingrich report is that it can be done. Republicans have already proven they can run those campaigns and win. They’ll have to if they ever hope to win the presidency again. Party leaders, up to and including the nominee, can’t say they weren’t
     
     

    Posted by Dana West @ 9:10 am for Candidates, Editorial, Elections, National politics |

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