Countdown to 2016: The Republican Issues
Even with many blaming Romney for the mistakes that he made during the 2012 election campaign, including his infamous 47% gaffe, the party as a whole still has a lot to think about if they want to turn it around for 2016. Deeply divided during the nomination campaign, taking a long time to finally settle on Romney, it never really looked like the Republicans would win. Failing to win the swing states, it’s not just one main reason the party lost but rather a whole host of reasons. Certainly, Obama wasn’t as strong as he was in 2008 and a particularly strong Republican candidate could have potentially beaten him, but the party still has a lot to change if they want a Republican to become the 45th President of the United States.
Currently representing nearly one out of every six adults in the United States, Hispanic Americans are already a massive part of the electorate and this number will continue to increase – as the fastest growing demographic in America. Yet, in 2012, 71% of this group voted for Obama. That’s not just because he’s a minority as well, but it’s because the Republican party has shunned and turned away Hispanic Americans in favour of their “traditional” values. Time and time again many members of the party have claimed that they want to get rid of immigrants, whereas the Democrats have shown that they are willing to try to sort out the immigration issue – with policies such as a potential amnesty. At the same time, some Conservative pundits have claimed that the message they put out to the Hispanic Americans was completely wrong, focussing on the economy. Instead, they need to focus on life, marriage and family – including issues such as immigration. Until this is sorted out, many of this important group will vote for the Democrats yet again, giving the party a crucial head start that will prove tough to beat.
Get behind your leader
Throughout the 2012 campaign the party was clearly divided, taking a long time to pick their nominee. Yet, even when Romney won, the party wasn’t really behind him. There were many cases of leading Republicans refusing to back him or even claiming that Obama was doing somethings right. That might be the case, but that’s not the thing to do just before an election. Many of Obama’s key battleground campaign offices, such as those in Ohio, never closed down after the 2008 election and just continued to spread the message. Even though Obama was the incumbent, he wasn’t perfect, but the party still put on a united front which meant that people weren’t never going to question the ticket. If the Republicans aren’t careful, the next primary campaign could be another long one, with a few strong candidates, meaning that the party loses more crucial campaigning time arguing among themselves. They’re going to need all the time they can get, so they need to pick a candidate early and get behind him.
Proving crucial in the 2008 election, where Obama used the internet and digital media, including advertisements in popular video games, to attract the attention of young people, the Republican party still haven’t learnt to embrace this crucial medium. There were a lot more Democratic volunteers, including reports that volunteers went right into the large lecture halls at Colleges with announcements about voter registration before and after classes. The internet, Twitter, Facebook and even traditional billboards were full of messages from the Obama campaign, including deadlines for voter registration, early voting and other messages which meant that many young Americans were constantly reminded of the Obama message and knew just how to vote. The Romney campaign lacked this skill and left all the advantages to the Obama campaign, giving him yet another crucial advantage. It’s going to take a lot of effort, money and volunteers to do something similar for 2016, but it’s certainly worth doing if the party wants to win the next election.
So, it’s clear that the Republican Party needs to change a lot before the next election, having just too many problems for the party to truly be considered a potential winner in 2012. It’s going to take a lot to change, with the party still deeply divided as many members are stuck clinging to their “traditional” values. However, the party still has hope if they can get their campaign right; look towards the demographics and if they all get behind their leader.