Building a Republican Party for the Future
After the victories of 2014 and 2015, Chairman Priebus understood that the inverse of the old adage is true as well–the party has a duty to learn as much from success as it does from failure. I was honored when he asked me to lead a project to surface the “lessons learned” from these campaigns. Our report, released this week, is the result of dozens of interviews with candidates, campaign managers, and campaign staff for Senate, House, and governors’ races across the country.
The more we learned, the more we were struck with the scale of the changes Republican candidates are navigating–changes in the political environment, in the technology and tactics of campaigns, and in the strategies required to win.
Perhaps the most historic and underappreciated of these changes is the political realignment that has taken place over the past eight years.
As we write in the report:
[...] The GOP has also seen historic growth in state legislatures. Under Obama, the GOP went from 3,223 Republican legislators and 4,082 Democrat legislators at the beginning of the Obama administration to a complete reversal, with 4,113 Republicans and 3,165 Democrats. Republicans gained 890 legislative seats since the first Obama election. The Democrats had a net loss of 917 seats. [...] To get a sense of the depth of the Democratic Party’s decay at the state legislative level in the Obama era, consider that since President Obama took office, 85 of 98 legislative bodies have become more Republican than they were when he was inaugurated.
Contrary to the media-propagated notion that demographics doom Republicans in the long term, the surprising strides by a number of candidates in 2014 suggest that changing demographics offer a once-in-a-lifetime growth opportunity for Republicans if they learn that they can be very inclusive without compromising their principles.
As we write:
Cory Gardner went from between 6 and 8 percent support among Colorado’s Latino voters in January to tying incumbent Senator Udall at 48-48 on Election Day. Colorado Republicans worked Pueblo, a largely Hispanic area they had traditionally ignored and which now has a Republican Latina state legislator and boosted Gardner’s vote above the historic pattern.
Also in Colorado Coffman’s surprisingly easy re-election was built in part on his learning Spanish and debating in it (his opponent was more fluent but Coffman got great credit for trying). Coffman also focused on the Ethiopian Christian community which invited him to four churches the last Sunday before the election while freezing out his opponent.
In Virginia, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s decisive win was helped by focused attention to Pakistani, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Latino voters.
In Texas Senator John Cornyn won Asian-American voters, had a plurality of Hispanic voters and also had websites in Vietnamese and Hindi.
The Republican State Leadership Committee points to a surprising number of Republican minority state legislative victories. For example, the margin of control in the West Virginia House is a Republican African American woman. Republicans received an estimated 50 percent of the Asian American vote in 2014. There are more than 110 Republican minority state legislators and with each election the number grows. Leadership can translate demography into an opportunity, not a problem.
Republicans candidates for every office from state legislatures to the presidency have the chance to build on these lessons in this year’s elections. And they ignore them at their own peril.
Among other lessons, a few are particularly important to remember at this point in the contests, as general election campaigns are beginning to take shape. In particular, what we learned renewed our conviction that big ideas matter, and that communicated well, they can be decisive.
As we write:
Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions.
Tags: Newt Gingrich, Building, Republican Party, for the future,2016 Election Principles, RNC, Chairman Reince PriebusTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!