Remember the Republican “autopsy” report from the 2012 campaign, the GOP’s 100-page investigation into why it lost the presidential election and what it had to do to resurrect itself?
Donald Trump has essentially set fire to that report. He’s done the exact opposite of almost every recommendation Republican analysts said the party needed to adopt if the party wanted to survive.
Among the top recommendations was to stop alienating women.
Women are much more likely to vote than men, and when they do vote, they are much more likely to support Democrats. The autopsy report argued that the left’s recent “war on women” rhetoric threatened to repel female voters even further from the GOP. It, therefore, proposed several measures to draw more women into the party.
Suggestions included “make a better effort at listening to female voters, directing their policy proposals at what they learn from women and communicating that they understand what a woman who is balancing many responsibilities is going through.”
Also, “use Women’s History Month as an opportunity to remind voters of the Republican’s Party historical role in advancing the women’s rights movement.”
Three years later, Trump declared it Opposite Day. Or perhaps, Opposite Month.
During Women’s History Month – that is, March – alone, Trump illustrated his (and his party’s) commitment to “advancing women’s rights” by: tweeting a demeaning photo of Heidi Cruz suggesting that she’s not hot enough; impugning the character of a woman allegedly battered and bruised by Trump’s campaign manager, in public and on camera; and suggesting that women who seek abortions should be punished.
Three-quarters of women now view Trump unfavorably, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. A separate poll, from NBC and the Wall Street Journal, found that almost half of Republican female voters said they couldn’t imagine voting for Trump.
Those negative views of the leading Republican candidate appear to be bleeding into perceptions of the party itself. In late January, 51 percent of women held unfavorable views of the GOP; by mid-March, the share had jumped to 62 percent, according to polls by CNN/ORC.
Additional chapters of the report described other demographics that the GOP needed to woo. Or at least, stop ticking off.
These included blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Indian Americans and Native Americans. Basically, all nonwhite people. Nonwhite Americans are growing as a share of the electorate, the report recognized, and it would be party suicide to assume Republicans could win elections through their traditional, shrinking, white base alone.
Likewise, the report suggested that taking a hard line on gay rights threatened to permanently repulse younger voters, who have become increasingly likely to support Democrats over the past two decades.
“The pervasive mentality of writing off blocks of states or demographic votes for the Republican Party must be completely forgotten,” the report declared.
It advised forming a “new Growth and Opportunity Inclusion Council,” which would “develop a program designed to educate Republicans on the importance of developing and tailoring a message that is non-inflammatory and inclusive to all.” More generally the party must “emphasize … the importance of a welcoming, inclusive message in particular when discussing issues that relate directly to a minority group.”
It also argued that the GOP “must invest financial resources in Hispanic media,” and pass immigration reform, like, yesterday.
Once again, Trump has done the reverse.
Rather than seeking out “non-inflammatory and inclusive” messages, he has accused Mexican immigrants of being predominantly criminals and rapists; adopted a racist, faux-Asian accent at a campaign rally; wavered on condemning white supremacists; vowed to ban all Muslim immigrants; and advocated rolling back nationwide same-sex marriage. Not to mention his lawsuit against the nation’s biggest Hispanic TV network and insistence on mass-deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants.
At this point, pretty much the only recommendation from the report that he has enthusiastically pursued is a more active social media presence. But in the meantime, he’s managed to alienate almost every major constituency, including even the usually reliable Republican base of white men, “poorly educated” whites and white, evangelical Christians.
Of course, Trump had accomplices in his post-autopsy, re-homicide of the GOP. Party elites also ignored some of the report’s other key recommendations, such as to “attack corporate welfare,” stop beating up on the poor, abandon “stale” 30-year-old policy ideas and ditch their insistence on ideological “purity.”
Some of their stances on these issues appear to be changing, but that may be too little, too late. How many more lives can the GOP possibly have left?
Washington Post Writers Group