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Monday, October 24, 2016

By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times

OXON HILL, Md. — After steep losses in the 2012 election, there was broad agreement within the Republican Party that its biggest challenge was bridging the divide with key voter groups — minorities, women and young voters — who threw their support behind President Barack Obama, giving him the crucial margin in battleground states.

But a year after the GOP’s so-called autopsy report, the speeches from the party’s leading voices at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, reflected a complex reality: Republicans are still searching for a unified message to reach those groups.

Heading into the 2014 midterm election, the trends look good for Republicans, largely because things have gone so poorly for the president: His poll numbers have sunk, his health care law remains unpopular and his support among Latinos appears to be fading because of his lack of traction on Obamacare and immigration reform.

But the long-term challenges facing Republicans were outlined in bracing detail Saturday afternoon at the conference by GOP pollster Whit Ayres. He noted that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won a landslide among white voters — pulling a higher percentage of whites than Ronald Reagan won in 1980. But Obama won nearly unanimous support among blacks, Ayres noted, and captured more than 70 percent of Latinos and Asians.

“This is a problem, because Hispanics are the fastest-growing minority group in the country,” Ayres told the gathering, noting that those demographic shifts present an increasingly difficult climb for Republicans in states like Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Georgia and North Carolina. Ayres added that Romney won the lowest percentage of the Latino vote of anyone in a two-candidate race since Watergate.

Texas Republicans like Gov. Rick Perry and former President George W. Bush demonstrated how to reach those voters, Ayres said. Bush did so by reaching out “very aggressively in the Hispanic community: He advertised on Hispanic TV; he supported immigration reform; he spoke a version of Spanish,” he said. “It can be done.”

Still, over the three-day gathering, immigration reform — which has stalled in the Republican-controlled house — was too politically perilous to warrant even a mention from many of the top contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination.

The party’s antiabortion stance, which has alienated moderate women voters, came up in nearly every speech by the major 2016 candidates. It was a central focus for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once viewed as the candidate with the broadest appeal to Democrats and independents.

The conference’s two most prominent female speakers were 2010 California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee — both of whom had arrived on the national stage with great fanfare, but failed to make any significant inroads among women.

The conference draws a self-selecting but powerful group of activists within the GOP who are likely to dominate the 2016 contests in early states. Yet the continuing search for a strategic message and the competing forces within the Republican Party were often on display.

A panel about whether libertarians and social conservatives could get along erupted into a vigorous debate over what the party should say about same-sex marriage. The major panel on immigration featured commentator Ann Coulter, who chided MSNBC for celebrating “the browning of America” and said, “It is good to tell the poor to keep their knees together before marriage.”

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  • Independent1

    “Closing out the conference Saturday night, Palin said conservatives were on the rise because many Obama voters have been disappointed by the president’s health care law and his “dopey wobbling on the world stage.”

    Gee Sarah, just where would “conservatives on the rise” be?? In the group of ever fading old white males? Because it certainly isn’t in the upcoming millennial generation where there are more saying that they have a liberal bias than conservative – and even more saying they’e becoming more liberal as they age. See this:

    A new study by the Pew Research Center provides reason for political optimism: Members of the so-called millennial generation, born after 1980, are more liberal than the preceding generations on a range of issues:

    The millennials are also the only generation of adults with more people who identify themselves as liberals than as conservatives. Just less than one-third of millennials call themselves liberals while about one-quarter identify as conservative. And nearly half say they have become more liberal as they have aged, with 57% saying their views on social issues have become more liberal over time. […]

    The liberal views of the youngest adult generation show up on a range of issues. Nearly seven in 10 say they support same-sex marriage, for example, just more than half identify themselves as “supporters of gay rights” and they are twice as likely to see gay and lesbian couples raising children as a good thing for the country than as a negative, which puts them at odds with older generations. They are also far more likely to favor legalization of marijuana. Opinions on abortion and gun control, by contrast, show little generational difference.

    Just more than half of millennials say they favor a “bigger government providing more services” rather than a smaller government – a polling question used for years as an index of people’s attitudes toward government’s role.

    And even the right-wing biased Gallup polls say that the percent of folks who identify as liberal are at an all time high, while in the latest poll, those identifying as conservative actually went down a percentage point (although at the moment, there are more conservative leaning than liberal leaning). See this:

    (CNN) – While more Americans continue to identify as conservatives rather than liberals, new numbers by Gallup indicate that the percentage who label themselves themselves as liberals is at a new high. Twenty-three percent of Americans identified themselves as liberals last year, up a percentage point from 2012 and four points over the past decade, and its the highest level since Gallup started regularly measuring ideology in the current format in 1992.

    But that’s still far below the 38% who identified themselves as conservatives in 2013, which was down a point from the previous year. Thirty-four percent labeled themselves as moderates, also down a point from 2012. “The rise in liberal identification has been accompanied by a decline in moderate identification,” says a release by Gallup. Gallup says their 2013 results are based on more than 18,000 interviews from 13 separate polls they conducted last year.

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  • Dominick Vila

    The results of the last CPAC in Maryland highlight how far to the right the GOP still is, regardless of how hard the Republican establishment says otherwise. From the marginalization of women and minorities to voting for a foreign born candidate whose eligibility to become President of the USA is very much in question, the Republican rank and file remains as radical and incoherent as ever. I can’t wait to see a race and debates between Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Be careful of what you wish for. Hillary’s nomination will put the Republicans in total control of Congress and the presidency.

      She’s the Democrats’ worst nightmare.

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Until the Republican party finally stops trying to alienate the Young, Old, Poor, Women and Minorities, those demographics will find themselves more and more aligned with the Democrats. Even Veterans groups are finally realizing that the Republican party does NOT have their best interests at heart. The only “demographic” that they have not alienated yet is the NRA Board of Directors. However, significant numbers of NRA members who fall into one of the above mentioned categories do find themselves more and more distanced from the GOP.

    • Allan Richardson

      They alienate those groups with the TRUTH about the nature of their policies. When they start sweet-talking those groups, we all need to fact-check what their policies actually ARE. A snake is a snake even if it claims to be a bunny rabbit.

    • Daniel Jones

      The problem is that sane gun owners feel there’s no other alternative.

      If a *far* less extreme group started advocating safe gun ownership–as in safe but allowing guns to be owned safely–the exodus would begin.

  • paulyz

    Many young voters are now OPPOSED to Obama & the lies of the Democrat Party. Many Union members & leaders state that Obamacare & large increase in minimum wage causes MORE income inequality. Many Black leaders and ministers are speaking out against some of Obama’s policies. N.Y is going broke so they advertise 10 years of Zero Corporate taxes for businesses to re-locate? Isn’t that “Corporate Welfare”??? Most Americans by far OPPOSE “another” Amnesty, especially while 25 Million Americans are unemployed. On & on & on……………..

    • bjbstarr11

      The people I know are not against the ACA. In addition, what black leaders are you referring to.What is wrong with raising the minimal wage so people can make a decent living. Why don’t you try to live off it and see how far that gets you. The GOP promised to creat jobs when they won the mid terms back in 2010. I am still waiting to see their results. How is that working for you.

    • CPAinNewYork

      No, dummy, it’s not “corporate welfare” to offer tax breaks. It’s trying to reverse the economic havoc caused by the stupid fiscal policies of the past.

      New York State has been ruled by self-serving political hacks for fifty years and the effect of their stupidity and cupidity is reaching a crescendo of failure. The next step is probably bankruptcy.

    • sealbeams

      Obama should have asked for 18 dollars instead of !010. He won’t get either one but you don’t start low. Just like ACA where he should have gone with a single payer from the start instead of making insurance companies wealthier than they already are. I do agree that corporate tax cuts are welfare for the rich. A low minimum wage is also. UNIONS.

  • FT66

    Though am happy that the other side (GOP) never learn anything in order to win, but on the other hand am not happy at all. I need a real opposition Party which knows what it means by opposing side. Any Party which is serious to win , how can they continue to bring the loser lady from Alaska keeping on talking year after year nonsense and win again. If anything is rotten even if it is within the household, you just throw it away. You don’t think it was bad last year or two years ago, and this time let me try it again may be its good. I couldn’t believe what I saw and heard from that lady made as their keynote Speaker to close Annual Meeting. I am asking myself, were there policies or newideas she talked about so that participants could take them along and get prepared for the coming election? Is there any wise person remaining in GOP who can speak loud and say this is not the right path for the Party to take in order to win?

  • howa4x

    The real problem the republicans face is that millennia’s who are more conservative, but are libertarians and not hard core republicans. They are ok with same sex marriage and legalizing pot laws which to the average republican is kryptonite. They are also less likely to support into a foreign entanglement which should make Bill Krystol cry. This is the reason Rand Paul is more popular and why the GOP may split open in 3 parts. The libertarians, evangelical/tea party and business conservatives, each with their own following. The evangelical/TP’s are still pushing a hard right social agenda the business and libertarians don’t support. It will be harder to get these parts to coalesce around a consensus candidate, since two of the groups represent true believers. If the GOP always has to appear saddled with a social rightwing agenda to get over the primary hump then they will be a wilderness party when it comes to the national stage for a long time. That long time works directly against their long term interests since the white base is shrinking every year.

  • latebloomingrandma

    This annual CPAC farce, at least according to the clips seen on the air, seems to be nothing but a snark fest and angry people spouting what’s wrong with America is that there are not enough guns and Biblical rules. Christie says they have better ideas, but they have no ideas. They all hate the government and the President, yet aspire to work for and head up an organization that they hate. How does this make sense?
    Jindal used to say they shouldn’t be the “stupid party”, yet has made some pretty stupid remarks. And who can even pay any attention to the idiot from the North Pole?. It’s enough to give me a migraine. I think the country has a gigantic migraine from their rhetoric—how do we make it stop???

  • ExRadioGuy15

    The problem is that both parties went to the “right”. While the GOP went “right into the insane asylum”, as Bill Maher correctly pointed out in December 2011 on his show, the Democratic Party moving to the right means that they actually are the GOP Progressives and Moderates of yesteryear…
    The next problem is the sad fact that the Republicans shed sanity, the facts, truth, reason, logic and common sense and adopted Fascism as their “North Star”. Now, while the Conservative and Tea Party wings of the GOP have embraced Fascism readily, the Progressives and Moderates of the party have decided to bathe in a boiling cauldron of fear, ignorance and cognitive dissonance regarding the truth about their party.
    Believe it or not, this has happened before to the GOP…after squandering all of the Roaring Twenties with a new voting bloc, women, and using that power to feed their greed and Fascism, GOP Progressives and Moderates launched the Republican Progressive & Moderate Revolution starting in the 1930 midterm elections. GOP “Progs” and “Mods” began voting for Democrats, realizing that the GOP truly didn’t give a damn about them. Except for the 1938, 1946 and 1954 midterms, that revolution handed the GOP some humiliating defeats at the ballot box, none worse than the first four, 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936.
    What is required now is for the Progs and Mods of the GOP to start voting for Democrats, who truly represent them, and launch the second Republican Progressive & Moderate Revolution. Their forebears back then had the intelligence and bravery to launch the first one. We need the current Mods and Progs to show that same courage and intelligence now…

  • Sand_Cat

    The one thing above all that the GOP should fear is a true “great awakening.”

  • terry b

    Anyone ever hear of the rise of the third Reich in Germany in the late 20’s and early 30’s? Right now the right wing seems to be looking to rise up a 4th Reich in America. As long as everyone can see this group for what they are and what they represent we should not have this evil perpetrated on us like it was on the Germans prior to World War II. We already have governors of certain states such as in Wisconsin and Texas who wish to see us go from a democratic regime to one that favors a fascist one. These people scare the hell out of me because of their current policies seem so reminiscent of the old time Nazi party policies. As long as women, minorities and gays vote for democrats we should not see a rise of a fourth Reich in America.

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      Finally, finally, in terry b, I have found someone who writes what I have been writing for years…the Republican Party is now a fascist party with the Tea Party serving as it’s SA storm troops. It is totally dominated by the extreme radical right who used to be considered the lunatic fringe; it’s purged virtually every last moderate and even sensible, reasonable conservative except for those who opportunistically have lurched to the extreme fascistic right to save their own careers. Terry b is 100% on target–the object of the Republican Party is now at heart to abolish political democracy in America. It’s been a supposed truism that “it can’t happen here.” But is it really true?????

      • terry b

        If you are trying to impress me, you have more than satisfactorily succeeded in doing that. I felt like I was reading the kind of post that I would put out here. You have covered all the bases. The nutcases can’t handle the truth or any facts that show the current GOP for what it truly is. Fascism is lifting its ugly head every day in our country. Only women, minorities and all intelligent people can save us from the retarded right that rules the republican party!

  • ThomasBonsell

    I don’t care about the GOP’s messages, comments, platforms or any thing other than results.

    And the results are dismal.

    In every economic category worth researching, the Republicans come out as losers, not just ordinary losers, but distant losers. In job creation=losers; in GDP growth=losers; in business creation=losers; in addressing poverty=losers; in government spending=losers; in government debt=losers; in government deficits=losers; starting wars they can’t complete=losers.

    This nation’s best hope for survival is that they continue their losing ways to elections; hopefully all elections.

    • 1standlastword

      You are so right!!!

      The only problem the republican party has is that THEY ARE ALL, AS A WHOLE–THE WRONG PEOPLE FOR THE CURRENT TIMES.


      They can ‘t see it because when you’re in the lion’s belly you can’t know it’s a lion

  • Jim Myers

    No stupid comments? NO STUPID COMMENTS?

    Good luck with that.

  • Elliot J. Stamler

    Much as I personally like the president whom I have strongly supported, the truth to me compels me to write all of his problems in the polls are his own fault. James Carville who for years has with his usual keen insight seen why and said so, is that by temperament and personality the president is one who is in politics but does not like politicos, is profoundly averse to conflict which he does not handle well and thus extremely reluctant to wade in and fight his enemies like hell. He thus hasn’t, can’t comprehend that his enemies at home and the nation’s enemies abroad, must be fought and fought hard…the president is so cerebral, so measured, so “cool”, that these factors have led him to where he is which both disappoints and frankly greatly angers me as a Democrat. We saw this part of him so clearly in the first presidential debate with Romney–of course after that abysmal performance as an apathetic punching bag, having been told resultantly his reelection was going to go down the drain, he switched to the fighting, oratorically magnificent president he can be..thank God. But unfortunately it is the former personna which reflects the real Barack Obama and this is why he is in the dog house and may well lead the whole party into the dog house in this year’s election. It’s tragic-for everyone.