Opinion

2016 Republicans are completely ignoring the lessons of their 2012 'autopsy'

You know what they say about those who ignore history...

After Mitt Romney's bruising defeat in the 2012 presidential election, Republicans spent several months looking at what went wrong, and proposed a series of changes to make sure it didn't happen again.

The 97-page report was an extraordinary public acknowledgement of the party's weaknesses. It did not mince words. The report said the GOP was "marginalizing itself," and that without major changes "it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win a presidential election in the near future."

Three key groups of voters were highlighted for special attention: Latinos, women, and young people. All were found to be moving away from the party.

If the last few months are any indication, Republicans have done little to pull these voters back into the GOP tent.

Latino voters are especially critical. The GOP autopsy report called for abandonment of the party's anti-immigration stance, declaring that "we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform."

More than two years later, however, Republicans are no closer to passing immigration reform, even though they control both houses of Congress. In fact, the party remains bitterly divided over the issue.

The party is so conflicted on immigration that even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is one of two Latino GOP presidential candidates — had to back away from his own reform plan when he found it incompatible with wooing GOP primary voters.

Women voters are another key voting group that the GOP has failed to reconnect with. The autopsy report concluded the GOP "must improve its efforts to include female voters and promote women to leadership ranks" and that "when developing our Party's message, women need to be part of this process to represent some of the unique concerns that female voters may have."

But even with a record number of candidates either currently seeking or planning to run for the GOP presidential nomination, only one — Carly Fiorina — is a woman. And she's never held public office before.

Finally, young voters continue to abandon the GOP in record numbers. The autopsy report noted that young people were "rolling their eyes at what the party represents" and focus groups described Republicans as "scary," "narrow-minded'" and "out of touch." A recent Pew Research survey put numbers behind these observations and found a "wide ideological divide" between young voters and the Republican Party.

But if you listen to the Republicans running for president, the reason the party hasn't won the White House in recent years is because their candidates haven't been conservative enough. Younger voters — including younger Republicans — are much less conservative than the party. They don't agree with the party on many issues, from gay marriage to immigration to the role of government itself.

It's almost as if no Republicans bothered to read the Republican autopsy report. They're making the same mistakes once again.

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