A year after trying to make sense of their 2012 losses, the GOP is gearing up for big 2014 wins.
Senate control looks within their grasp and Republicans aren’t in any danger of losing the House, but their optimism could be shortsighted. Strategists say the GOP still hasn't done enough to expand and grow their party to win the White House in two years.
"I'm concerned we're going to make a lot of gains in 2014 and people are going to confuse that with success at the national level and learn the wrong lessons. It's two different electorates," said GOP consultant Ford O'Connell.
Republicans have the wind at their backs heading into the fall. A poor national climate for Democrats driven by President Obama's sagging approval ratings, an older, whiter mid-year electorate and a favorable Senate map all give them big advantages.
But in 2016, none of that will be true. In a presidential year where they need to appeal to Hispanics, women and young voters, the GOP's response to its "autopsy" a year ago has fallen short in many places. Immigration reform is all but dead, the party is still grappling with off-message remarks from some candidates.
All those faultlines were addressed in the Republican National Committee's "Growth and Opportunity Project,” which celebrates its one-year mark Tuesday. The lengthy internal critique of what had gone wrong for the party in 2012 and how they needed to change in order to be able to win over an increasingly diverse electorate stressed those concerns and more.
Republicans credit RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his staff for making great strides on data, technology and get-out-the-vote operations, the things they have the most control over. They crow about last week’s Florida special-election win in a district President Obama carried twice. But some worry that on the report’s other recommendations, the party has failed to follow the RNC’s lead.