The front-runners for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, are casting aside the lessons of the GOP “autopsy” that was intended to prevent Republicans from losing the White House in 2016.
The autopsy report, issued by the Republican National Committee (RNC) in March 2013 after Mitt Romney’s losing campaign and titled “the Growth and Opportunity Project,” was intended to help the GOP set itself up for victory after losing two presidential elections in a row.
both cycles, GOP candidates lost badly to Barack Obama among minority voters. The former Illinois senator also defeated Romney in 2012 and Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008 among women and voters under the age of 30.
Now some Republicans fear their party is making the same mistakes.
“To win the White House, a political party has to make folks feel welcome and show that it cares about their daily life,” said Henry Barbour, who was one of five authors of the 2013 report.
GOP strategist Ford O’Connell, who has long insisted that the party must expand its demographic appeal, noted that the more conservative elements of the party are ascendant at the moment.
The nightmare scenario for modernizers like himself, he suggested, was a conservative candidate becoming the nominee and winning the general election because of a “perfect storm” of pro-GOP factors. Such an outcome, he suggested, would postpone the hard conversations that party needs to have internally.
“If they are successful,” O’Connell said of candidates such as Trump and Cruz, “then those who are arguing to broaden our appeal will be pushed to the edges of the party.”