The Republican National Committee is out with a 100-page analysis of how the party can revive its sagging fortunes. Doubtless many of the recommendations are good ones -- more outreach to minority and women voters, better candidate recruitment, fewer debates during the primaries, openness to immigration reform, competing with Democrats in absentee and early voting and much more.
Some of these things may help, or at least, as my grandmother would have said about chicken soup for a cold, they can't hurt. Others sound a little desperate, such as "Republican leaders should participate in and actively prepare for interviews with The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, MTV, and magazines such as People, Us Weekly, etc., as well as radio stations that are popular with the youth demographic." Maybe, but only if they're naturally witty and hip. I don't see Mitch McConnell walking away as a conquering hero from such encounters (though he's probably twice as smart as Stewart or Colbert).
Republicans are suffering from a bad case of political whiplash. There's a fine line between healthy self-examination and masochistic self-flagellation. It's bracing that Republicans are grappling with their weaknesses -- I've been arguing for more than a decade that the party's tone on immigration was needlessly alienating the fastest growing group in America -- but it's also important to remember that Democrats have problems of their own.
Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson, two smart analysts who served the last victorious Republican, offer some of the alarming data in the March Commentary magazine. "Of the last six presidential elections, four have gone to the Democratic nominee, at an average yield of 327 electoral votes to 210 for the Republican." These losses track the changing nature of the electorate. White voters have declined from 89 percent in 1976 to 72 percent in 2012. Wehner and Gerson write: "Consider the performance of Mitt Romney, who carried the white vote by 20 points. If the country's demographic composition were still the same last year as it was in 2000, he would now be president. If it were still the same as it was in 1992, he would have won in a rout. If he had merely secured 42 percent of the Hispanic vote ... Romney would have won the popular vote and carried Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico. Republicans, in short, have a winning message for an electorate that no longer exists." Ouch.