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Washington Examiner: GOP 'autopsy' instructive; process should be the focus

Published: March 20, 2013

REPUBLICAN National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus released the Republican Party's official “autopsy” of the 2012 election on Monday. Conservatives are already upset at what's in it — particularly its hints at policy changes. For example, the Priebus report states, somewhat awkwardly, “We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.”

Conservatives should keep an open mind and identify precisely what's wrong — and what's right — about this report. Immigration reform, which has always enjoyed conservative support among libertarians and big business Republicans, will be a bitter pill for others to swallow. But it will likely be a moot point before the next election anyway, regardless of where the RNC stands. More importantly, the RNC is indeed not a policy committee. GOP candidates' policy positions on such issues as same-sex marriage will be decided by Republican primary voters and by delegates to national and state party conventions, not by some pamphlet produced by Washington insiders.

This is why the policy issues discussed in the pamphlet are far less important than the process issues.

First, there's the good: For decades, Republicans have not only failed to court black and Hispanic voters, but have in many cases avoided courting them so as not to remind them of upcoming elections, lest they turn out and vote in large numbers for Democrats. This is no way for a party to survive, let alone grow. You can't win someone's vote if you don't even try. If the RNC is serious about the report's recommendations to court racial and ethnic minorities, it will not settle for some kind of token apology tour. It will instead put serious money behind minority voter contact efforts and set realistic metrics of success or failure.

For example, Republicans will not start winning majorities of the black vote any time soon. But the difference between winning and losing Ohio in 2012 was the difference between getting 16 percent of the black vote there (as George W. Bush did in 2004) and getting only 3 percent of it (as Mitt Romney did). It is also worth noting that Romney won 47 percent of the Asian vote in Nevada — the only state where Republicans made concerted multilingual voter contact efforts for that group. In contrast, Obama won 79 percent of the Asian vote in neighboring California.

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