The new Republican strategy book for 2016

The Republican National Committee ponders how to fix its losing streak

Today the Republican National Committee released a 100-page report on how to fix its losing streak. The tone was blunt: the party is “increasingly marginalizing itself” and has lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections, the report states.

“We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

The party appears “out of touch” to voters under age 30, and alienates ever-more-important Hispanic voters with its tone and rhetoric. And it cannot afford to be perceived as the party that “doesn’t care.”

“Our ideas can sound distant and removed from people’s lives. Instead of connecting with voters’ concerns, we too often sound like bookkeepers,” the report states.”Low-income Americans are hardworking people who want to become hard-working middle-income Americans. Middle-income Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help everyone make it in America,” the report states.

The report lays out a broad variety of steps and strategies, from cutting down the number of candidates’ debates, to recruiting more women candidates to embracing immigration reform and aggressively courting Hispanic voters from the moment they take the citizenship oath. (Maybe they’ve been talking to this guy?)

Here is the 100-page report: 130960510-Growth-Opportunity-Project

The text of Chairman Reince Priebus’ speech announcing reforms is here.

Here are a few interesting bits from the report:


  • Communicating, organizing, and winning the women’s vote should be part of all activities that the RNC undertakes. Women are not a “coalition.” They represent more than half the voting population in the country, and our inability to win their votes is losing us elections. While the Co-Chair of the RNC should continue, as has been the case, to lead the effort to create and implement programs to connect with female voters and help female candidates, this effort should not be restricted to the Co-Chair’s office. It should be a mandate for all relevant departments in the building.
  • The RNC should implement training programs for messaging, communications, and recruiting that address the best ways to communicate with women. According to the liberal group Center for American Progress, the No. 2 issue for female voters this election was “a candidate who will fight for them.” Our candidates, spokespeople and staff need to use language that addresses concerns that are on women’s minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them.
  • The RNC should develop a surrogate list of women based upon areas of policy and political expertise. The media affairs team at the RNC should be focused on booking more women on TV on behalf of the party and be given metrics to ensure that we aren’t just using the same old talking heads. This list should not be limited to outstanding national surrogates such as Governors Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte, and Congresswomen Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Marsha Blackburn (among many other excellent surrogates), but should also include mayors, county officials, and state legislators.


  • The RNC should hire field staff within Hispanic communities nationally to build meaningful relationships. This cannot happen every four years but needs to be a continuous effort.
  • Promote forward-looking positive policy proposals to Hispanic communities that unite voters, such as the Republican Party’s support for school choice.
  • The RNC must rebuild a nationwide database of Hispanic leaders.
  • The RNC must rebuild a Hispanic surrogate list to promote a high-level presence in both Hispanic and mainstream media.
  • Establish swearing-in citizenship teams to introduce new citizens after naturalization ceremonies to the Republican Party.

African Americans:

  • Establish a presence in African American communities and at black organizations such as the NAACP. We are never going to win over voters who are not asked for their support. Too many African American voters have gotten in the habit of supporting Democrats without hearing anyone in their community making a case to the contrary.
  • The RNC should create a program that is focused on recruiting and supporting African American Republican candidates for office.
  • Engage historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the goal of educating the community on Republican ideals and the Party’s history.
Young voters:
  • On messaging, we must change our tone — especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters. In every session with young voters, social issues were at the forefront of the discussion; many see them as the civil rights issues of our time. We must be a party that is welcoming and inclusive for all voters.
  • We also need to communicate with young voters where they get their information. We can’t use old communication tools for young voters. Technology is second nature to young voters. Using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram is important, but we also need to be actively looking for and utilizing the newest and most cutting-edge social media platforms to engage this generation.
  • Republican leaders should participate in and actively prepare for interviews with The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, MTV and magazines such as People, UsWeekly, etc., as well as radio stations that are popular with the youth demographic.


  • Recruit and competitively compensate talented and committed long-term data staff at the RNC. The Data team at the RNC is too small to adequately provide strong data and analysis of data for all state parties, candidates and organizations. The RNC is a national party and must have the staff resources available in this area to assist all 50 states, not just battleground states. The RNC should immediately expand the strategic/data staff to prepare for upcoming elections in 2013. More staff will be needed in an election year.
  • Conduct a national road show to ensure that state parties and campaigns at all levels of the ballot understand how data can benefit them, and train them in the tools made available to them. This is essential to building confidence throughout the Party and its consultant class and getting the most out of our investment.
  • Related to this concern was a strong belief that we must develop a deeper talent pool that understands and can deploy data and technology/digital campaigning in decision-making processes and targeting efforts. More active recruiting on college campuses, providing internships and scholarships, and recruiting from commercial firms that may harbor talent with relevant skills sets is critical in providing the talent for future campaigns. The RNC should strive to establish working relationships and open lines of communication with thought leaders in Silicon Valley to ensure the Party is at the forefront of new developments and trends in digital technology. The Party can and should play an important role in building bridges between its digital operatives and the best minds in the Valley and elsewhere.
Creating a Data Analytics Institute:
  • Identify a team of strategists and funders to build a data analytics institute that can capture and distill best practices for communication to and targeting of specific voters. Using the GOP’s data, the data analytics institute would work to develop a specific set of tests for 2013 and 2014 — tests on voter registration, persuasion, GOTV, and voter mobilization — that will then be adopted into future programs to ensure that our voter contact and targeting dollars are spent on proven performance. These tests should be the first order of business of the analytics team and should incorporate pollsters, data managers, and messaging professionals at the table developing a variety of approaches that would be subject to measurement.
Reforming debates and primaries:
  • The number of debates should be reduced by roughly half to a still robust number of approximately 10 to 12, with the first occurring no earlier than September 1, 2015, and the last ending just after the first several primaries (February – March 2016).
  • To facilitate moving up primary elections to accommodate an earlier convention, the Party should strongly consider a regional primary system or some other form of a major reorganization instead of the current system. The current system is a long, winding, often random road that makes little sense. It stretches the primaries out too long, forces our candidates to run out of money, and because some states vote so late, voters in those states never seem to count. Such a change would allow for a broader group of Republicans to play a role in selecting our nominee.