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The GOP's rebranding: Can Republicans take the Senate in 2014?
The party's big autopsy report concluded with recommendations for the 2016 presidential race, but the midterms are right around the corner
 
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus discusses the GOP strategy on March 18, 2013.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus discusses the GOP strategy on March 18, 2013. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The GOP has conducted an "autopsy" of its 2012 election failures, and come up with a comeback plan. One thing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus wants to do is to shorten the party's primary process, so that the next Republican presidential nominee doesn't have to take an extended pounding like the one that weakened Mitt Romney before last year's general election campaign. But the GOP has a more immediate test looming — the 2014 midterms, when Republicans can regain control of the Senate if they pick up six seats. Can the party turn the tables that fast?

The report's technical recommendations certainly could have an "immediate effect on 2014," says Joshua Miller at Roll Call. "For many GOP campaigns in 2012, polling proved to be an Achilles' heel," with inaccurate late surveys causing some candidates to squander resources in the final days before election day. The report suggests taking a look at errors 2012 pollsters made in determining who would and would not be a likely voter. By making changes, such as requiring Republican polls to include a minimum number of voters who only use cell phones, will give GOP candidates a better picture of the public mood, which will help their campaigns craft their messages more effectively.

Republicans are doing a lot of soul-searching to figure out "how to repair the GOP's problems," says Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, but their plan to rebrand themselves as a kinder, gentler party won't be enough to lure young people, minorities, and gay voters away from the Democrats. That will take actual policy changes that appeal to these more socially liberal constituencies, instead of focusing on the priorities of the "culturally conservative downscale white voters" on whom the GOP is becoming "overly reliant."

Gay marriage is a good place to start. Marriage equality is an area in which we're seeing an astonishingly rapid evolution in public attitudes. As such, it's a good test of whether the GOP will be able to shed its image as hidebound and intolerant, to stop alienating key groups it cannot afford to alienate any further, and to evolve along with the changing culture and demographics of America. [Washington Post]

Actually, the Cook Political Report's Amy Walter tells the National Association of Realtors, 2014 is a golden opportunity for Republicans. Democrats will have to hold seats in seven states won by Mitt Romney last year. Also, midterms can often be tough for the party of an incumbent president, and the minority and young voters Democrats rely on, and the GOP is trying to woo, typically don't turn out as much for midterms. That means that 2014 could spell a momentum shift toward the GOP no matter what. "It's going to be a lot of defense for the Democrats [next] year," Walter says.

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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