I do feel something for Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus. Maybe there’s a sliver of pity—mixed in with pure glee, of course. Speaking of purity, after Mitt Romney lost an election in which 89 percent of his voters were white, Preibus and company realized that their party had a bit of a problem winning support from, shall we say, certain demographic categories.
To its credit, the Republican Party actually engaged in some serious self-examination. The RNC conducted focus groups in a number of states, polled Hispanic Republicans, and spoke to a whole lot of people about their inability to win voters of color. On March 18, 2013, party officials they produced an autopsy report in which they admitted some hard truths, in particular regarding Latinos:
It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities
welcome in new members of our Party. If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence….if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies….Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door. Throughout our discussions with various Hispanic groups, they told us this: Message matters.
Too often Republican elected officials spoke about issues important to the Hispanic community using a tone that undermined the GOP brand within Hispanic communities. Repairing that relationship will require both a tone that “welcomes in” as well as substantial time spent in the community demonstrating a commitment to addressing its unique concerns. As one participant in a regional listening session noted, “The key problem is that the Republican Party’s message offends too many people unnecessarily.”
[snip] As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you.”
Then along came the Donald, as well as a good bit of ugly.