It's been a week since the election and I thought I'd give a little bit of closure to the whole thing by looking at what Republicans need to do to get back on the upswing over the next 2-4 years.
I will go in saying that I identify as Republican though I don't push my ideology on people nor do I try to talk people who aren't Republicans into changing their views. All I ask is the same.
Even though the Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives, I think last Tuesday was a very disappointing day for the Republican party. They had hoped for Mitt Romney to win the presidency, of course, and had hoped to, at the very least, not lose ground in the Senate, where there is a Democratic majority.
Neither of these things happened.
Never a chance
I had felt all along that a Romney win was out of grasp. Even after the debate and even when various polls leading up to the election were showing that a Romney win was possible, I wasn't buying it. I wasn't as confident as Sam over at Financial Samurai who actually had some bets going (bets which he won, but later donated the proceeds to charity), but I stuck to my conviction that Romney didn't have a prayer, and once the results started coming in, I knew early on that he would lose. I figured that he would have to pull off at least one upset even before the battleground states came into play. Once I started seeing that the states that were supposed to go to Obama were all going to Obama, and by a large margin, it seemed only a matter of time. And it was.
Why Was I So Confident?
I was confident that Romney would lose based on a couple of different accounts, and they tie back to numbers.
Here are the things that I think doomed Romey and the Republicans that they need to take some serious looks at between now and 2014 (the next Senate and House elections) and 2016 (when the Presidency is back in play):
- Anger – Every candidate is going to anger people in some fashion. The fact is that Romney angered a whole ton of people when the video came out about 47% of the people taking from the government. Even taking that aside, Obama's plan to tax the wealthy angered the wealthy, but that's a smaller subset of the population than can angered by traditional Republican policies. One example of this would be immigration. Republicans have made a lot of statement about immigration reform, which angers a great deal of the Latino population. Adding up the number of people that Romney/Republicans angered during the election cycle, and it was a very tough uphill battle right from the get-go. They need to stop being the party that polarizes and be the party that…
- Compromises – As much as many Republicans aren't going to want to compromise about issues relating to taxes and other policy, the fact is that gridlock is good for nobody. The gridlock we've seen over the last couple of years has made the most recent Senate and Congress among the most unproductive, ever. Continuing to stand their ground and give nothing might make the party backers happy, but if that wasn't enough to win the election, maybe that's not such a great strategy. Wouldn't it be great to be able to go into 2014 and 2016 able to deliver the message that it was the Republicans that allowed for gridlock to be broken, for the fiscal cliff to be avoided, and for other issues. I actually think Romney had a good track record during his time as governor, and he would have been somewhat successful in ‘reaching across the aisle', so hopefully his Republican counterparts take a lesson and actually follow through.
- Appeal to minorities – Republicans have, nearly without fail, been able to count on the white vote. But, look at the census readings over the past few decades. Minority population is growing at faster rates than that of whites, meaning that whites represent an ever smaller portion of the electorate. Polls also show that most minorities vote overwhelmingly with the Democrats. The study of these numbers could take an entire college course, so I won't even attempt to touch more than to say that if the Republicans do not find away to capture some of the minority vote that they don't have today, they are going to continue to fight an uphill battle.
- Groom someone now – Obama won't be able to run again in 2016, so while he had it easy this year in not having to wage a primary battle, the Republican primary battle was a mess. Many candidates that were expected to run didn't, and it was pretty late in the game before they actually decided (reluctantly) that Romney was their guy. I think party leadership has been completely disorganized, and they need to find one or two people and start grooming them now (similar to how I think Obama was groomed the second after he nailed his speech at the 2004 convention).
- Don't assume Obama will be Bush 2.0 – Obama's first victory in 2008 was a no-brainer, and a good chunk of that was because the American people had soured so much on the Republican party largely because of the devastation of Bush's second term. John McCain (or anybody else) was simply not electable that year. My fear is that the Republicans will simply count on the same thing happening in Obama's second term, and will count on his failure that would provide a clear path to a 2016 victory. Which could happen, but that's a big risk to take if you ask me. If it doesn't, they'll be left in no better position than they were this election. And look where that got them.
At some point in time, another Republican will be elected to fill the Oval Office. Though I'm sure many diehard Democrats would hope against it, the numbers make it a guarantee. The above ideas are just some of the few things that I believe the Republican party must do if they want that to happen in the 2010's (because they only have one shot left).