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Republicans meet, but losing image remains

January 25, 2014, at 3:20 PM
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. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

After three days of winter meetings, it's clear the Republican National Committee has made little progress in rebranding a party that has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

A quick look at the media coverage confirms the party is still struggling:

Politico: "After the 2012 election, establishment Republicans promised things would be different next time. They'd stop turning off women. They'd tamp down on rogue outside groups. And they'd get the tea party movement in line. But now that 2014 is here, those goals seem as elusive as ever and even insiders admit the party's got a long way to go — if it really wants to change."

Reuters: "At the Republican National Committee's winter meeting this week in Washington, it was clear the panic that hit the party after the 2012 elections has subsided, although polls indicate that efforts to make the party more attractive to single women, minorities and gays, groups that favor Democrats by big numbers, have not made any headway."

Associated Press: "Yet, awkward comments about contraception and women's reproductive systems and chatter over Michigan committeeman Dave Agema's derogatory comments about gays and Muslims obscured the party's attempt to feature its efforts at last week's meeting."

In fact, as National Public Radio notes, the GOP's rebranding effort "was mostly in the background this year." Instead, the party focused on procedural changes to help them with the next presidential election.

The one victory Republicans seemingly had was tightening the presidential primary process in an attempt to get an electable nominee early enough in the process that he or she can wage an effective general election campaign.

But political scientist Josh Putnam says most of the analysis of these changes so far is "overstating the changes the Republicans put in place this week."

He warns: "Let's all be careful about what has changed with these rules and what it may or may not mean for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race."

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