Student Op-Eds

The Future of the Republican Party: Sink or Swim

Eric Miller ’16  Inside Politics

On November 7, 2012, Republicans across the United States went to bed disappointed as they watched their candidate, Mitt Romney, fall to the incumbent president and Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, in the 2012 presidential election. While pre-election polls had indicated a nail-biting race, the president’s victory in virtually every single swing state resulted in a 126 electoral vote margin in a landslide victory for the Democratic party.  Romney, in tones of melancholy during his concession speech, spoke of the tremendous efforts of a “united Republican party” in supporting his presidential campaign. However, the result of the 2012 presidential election sent a much different message to the GOP.  Ironically, this message, adopted as the slogan for Barack Obama’s winning 2008 presidential campaign, relayed the need for a “change” within the GOP.  Following the basic Darwinian principles of natural selection, the Republican Party must adapt or it will not survive.

While Republicans across the nation sulked at Romney’s defeat, the Republican National Committee was at work analyzing the election results and formulating a plan for the 2016 presidential election. While the GOP is stacked with tremendous amounts of young talent, they face several issues that need to be resolved if they want to win the 2016 presidential election.

First and foremost, in order to have a shot at winning the presidential election you must first survive the Republican primary. As seen in the past, this is much easier said than done. This will especially be an issue in the 2016 presidential primary with a stacked Republican bench, but no clear Republican favorite to win the primary.  In order to fix this issue, the Growth and Opportunity committee, led by the RNC, has requested to shorten the primary process and limit the number of debates. This would help shield candidates from wounds suffered in the primary process that may end up hurting the nominee for the presidential election.

Another issue that the GOP faces in the upcoming election is how to convince minority groups within the U.S. to vote Republican.  In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney captured less that 30% of all major minority groups’ votes.  This is especially startling when you consider the predictions that the majority population, a group that Republicans rely heavily on to win elections, will be the minority by 2050.   However, despite these traditionally low numbers, several young prominent Republicans, such as Marco Rubio, hope to change Republicans’ dismal records with minority voters.

Finally, the GOP must band together behind a common message.  Currently, the Republican Party faces a large divide between the more traditionally conservative members and the more extreme right wing groups such as the Tea Party.  While much of the media attention is aimed at the fringe-politics of the Tea Party, it is important that the GOP voices a common, identifiable message.  This will help to quell the voices of the far right and attract voters that are centered in the middle.

With the GOP addressing the issues that the Romney campaign suffered from during the 2012 election, it should be interesting to see if the Republicans are able to make the changes needed to win the 2016 presidential election.  As a young Republican growing up with stories of Reagan and Eisenhower, it is my hope that the Republican Party can be restored to greatness.