Wanted to get your thoughts on this- while there's still a few people posting here and before Nightly dies. I know the election hasn't actually happened yet, but we're getting to the point where the writing is almost on the wall, so it's never too early to start.
First, this is what this thread is not. These replies will not be allowed:
a) Trump-bashing. Yes, we get that you don't like Trump. This thread is not about whether you like Trump or not, or how badly you think he damaged the GOP. It's about going forward.
b) The GOP base is evil, racist, redneck, Nazis, hitler, etc. See above. This thread is not about whether you like the GOP base. Hate on them all you want, do it in a different thread.
c) The GOP can never win an election again, because bla bla bla, it's going to collapse, bla bla bla. I don't care whether you think the GOP will ever win again or they're screwed for a generation. This is not a prediction thread about what you think will happen IRL- leave it at the door. This thread is about if, hypothetically, you woke up tomorrow and you were the GOP's next RNC chairman. What would you do if you had to find a way to get the GOP to win back the White House?
Now that we got that out of the way. There's basically two prevailing schools of thought on this. First, that the GOP find a way to appeal to minorities. Second, that the GOP find more white voters.
Let's talk about the first theory. As much as it pains me to say this, I've never really understood this school of thought and think this is where AM radio hosts sorta have a point. What precisely is the GOP supposed to do to make millions of minorities suddenly wake up one day and say, "hey! I think I'll vote Republican!" I just don't see it happening. When I press a lot of my liberal friends about what "appealing to minorities" actually means, it ultimately just ends up being some hemming and hawing about "being nicer." Uh.. OK? Whatever that means. I'm pretty sure Huffpost is going to write the same damn articles no matter who the GOP runs. The GOP candidate is predictably going to be called racist Hitler pretty much guaranteed.
Let's look at some 2012 results (we don't have the '16 results yet, but I'm assuming for this that Trump will not perform any better than Romney).
If only white males voted- Romney wins 501 EV to 37.
If only males (of all races) voted- Romney still wins 322 EV to 216.
If only whites voted- Romney wins 441 EV to 97 (this is actually one of the often glossed over 'secrets' of 2012- a majority of white women voted for Romney)
With minority demographics however, Romney lost Hispanics by 71 to 27 and Blacks 93 to 6. He did slightly better if you only include Hispanic and Black males. His worst demographic was Black females (96 to 3).
Another "secret" of 2012 that few people talk about- Romney won the youth vote as well, if you only include whites (51% to 44%). He lost young Hispanics and Blacks at a ratio similar to their overall demographic.
Now here's an interesting thing I learned recently- a Pew study indicated that among "English dominant" Hispanics, Clinton leads Trump, but only 48 to 41. A solid lead for Clinton, but not too far off the national average actually. This suggests that "English dominant" Hispanics probably track (more or less), the national popular vote %. Now what English dominant means, I'm not sure (the study says it's those that are 'more proficient in English than Spanish,' so probably those that grew up only speaking English in the home).
I see this as both good and bad news for the GOP. Good news in the sense that the evidence indicates that the oft-repeated theory that the "more Hispanics assimilate, the more conservative they become" has some truth to it. But it's bad news too, because this is not something the GOP can change, accelerate, or do much about either way. It's not like one day the RNC can snap their fingers and all of a sudden the characteristics of the entire Hispanic demographic nation-wide have changed. Maybe the Hispanic demographic changes on its own over time, or maybe it doesn't, but either way it's not happening in 4 years, 8 or maybe even 30. And on top of that, for reasons in their own self interest (and who could blame them), the Dems are likely to block any effort to try and accelerate it as well.
So the GOP, to win the Hispanics outright, would have to find a way to somehow appeal to the non-English speaking (or bilingual) Hispanics, and I just don't see a credible way to do so. If the GOP ran someone Hispanic who spoke fluent Spanish, they would be criticized for pandering. If they don't, they get criticized for being the party of "old white dudes." So the GOP is sorta damned if they do, damned if they don't here- which begs the question of whether the GOP is better off just writing off Hispanics altogether.
That leads me to the second part of this post- theory #2. That somehow the GOP has to find more white voters. Now, in order to do so, this means the GOP basically gives up NV, NM, VA and CO, but one could argue this is a sunk cost since they're gone for the GOP anyway.
In this theory, the GOP has to find a way to hold FL while flipping PA. This theory assumes the GOP wins OH (but not worth going into any more detail than that, since OH is basically a microcosm of the US with a stable population, either party is always going to have to win OH to win the election).
Flipping PA requires two things- first, that the trends in western PA continue to go strong for the GOP, and second, that the GOP is able to flip enough of the northeastern rust-belt cities (Scranton, etc) to balance out Philly (which is gone for the GOP). I've read numerous demographic studies (too lazy to link right now, but can find them if someone requests) that suggest these areas actually are trending to the GOP, but the Dems still turn out enough votes in Philly to cancel them out.
So the goal would be to have a candidate that increases turnout in northeastern PA, but keeps Philly from getting excited and turning out. Let us consider who the candidate would be. (again, this is not a thread about Trump). Biden is very popular in the area, so a folksy, straight-talking White guy that doesn't come off as a rich douche is a good fit (then again, that guy is a good fit for a lot of suburban American just in general). This hypothetical candidate would probably have to put economic issues front-and-center and be more populist than the mainstream GOP. If this cycle's primary showed us anything, it's that the establishment would find that unacceptable from the get-go. What's interesting though, is whether the current establishment has already lost the battle. At least in Europe, right-wing populism has already become the conservative movement. Where I used to live, in Switzerland, the right wing populist party (the Swiss People's Party) actually has a national majority in their Congress-equivalent. So is this the wave of the future? Maybe so, because at the end of the day, movement conservatives (as much as they may hate hearing it), don't make PA competitive. 10 years ago they made VA competitive, but demographics have changed such that VA isn't in play anymore. The unfortunate fact for the purists is simply that they don't exist in large enough numbers in swing states.
So who does this candidate look like? I can't think of an example of one this cycle, but it would probably be someone with similar positions to Trump (minus the more loony stuff), with the demeanor, attitude and temperament of someone like Kasich. Interestingly, Kasich himself could've been that person, but he never had an opening as long as Bush and Rubio were in the race (and the inability of him to steal their thunder, perhaps is indicative of how skilled a campaigner he really was). This brings up one big practical issue this route would have- a candidate of this style would have a difficult time getting out of the primary, especially in the youtube era.
So would this theory be superior to the "appeal to minorities" theory? I don't know. I can tell you right off the bat that it has one flaw- it's more of a short term fix, long term problem-- for the simple fact that these areas (northeast PA, MI, etc) are not growing in population, whereas other states like VA and CO are (especially CO- which is growing extremely fast... over 25% every 10 yrs... the fact that the Dems have picked those two states up is a straight up steal and probably the single greatest victory for them since LBJ).
My thoughts are not organized enough yet to state which road I'd take, except that I find option 1 to be unrealistic, while option 2 has long term demographic issues and practical issues with the primary. The best way forward then, may be a combination- option 2 in the short term, while waiting for option 1 to become viable, while assessing how the Hispanic demographic does (or doesn't) change over the next 30 years.