As it reassesses, GOP must remember that the message matters

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: March 24, 2013

And don't forget one reason for the GOP's political failure last year was that many white voters did not turn out to support Romney. Real Clear Politics reporter Sean Trende has estimated the number of white voters declined about 8 million nationally between 2008 and 2012, a change he said was not demographically driven but was “almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home.”

In the same fashion, it's been estimated the white vote in pivotal Ohio declined around 200,000 between 2008 and 2012 — more than President Barack Obama's winning margin in the state. Any serious plan to foster future conservative victories must include re-engaging those right-leaning voters.

Some conservatives worry the youth vote is skewing Democratic. This was also true in 1972 when Democrat George McGovern ran well among young voters while losing in a landslide. By the 1980s, those previously young voters were often supporting Republicans. Those obsessed with the “too old, too white” critique should also recall that the GOP once nominated a white man in his late 60s as president — and then saw him broaden the party's appeal during two terms in office.

Ronald Reagan proved that the messenger matters — and so does the message. As they reassess political strategies, conservatives should keep that political lesson in mind above all others.

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