For GOP, long-term challenges remain

On the heels of a significant victory in Florida last week, Republicans gleefully look forward to November.  A Democrat party reeling from Obamacare failures and unable to turn out its base leaves Republicans a fantastic opportunity to expand its majority in the House, recapture the Senate, and make bold advances in the states.

But, the party may be short-lived for the GOP.  The 2014 elections might be a banner year for Republican candidates, but what about 2016 and beyond?

In October 2013, Democrats enjoyed an 8-point congressional preference advantage – 39%  said they would prefer Republican control of Congress and 47% prefer Democrat control.  Since then, the Democrat lead has evaporated with Republicans now up 44%-43% on the congressional preference measure in the latest NBC/WSJ poll.  That’s certainly good news for 2014.

Disturbing, however, is the lack of movement among two key electoral groups for the future of the Republican Party.  Among both women ages 18-49 and Hispanic voters there was no positive GOP movement on their congressional preference:

table 1

Republican gains have come primarily among older women (age 50+) and white voters. The Democrats have remained strong with younger women and Hispanic voters, but those groups show substantially lower interest in the 2014 election.  Among all voters, 47% rate their interest in the 2014 election as very high (9 or 10 on ten-point scale), but only 33% of younger women and 38% of Hispanic women rate their interest as very high. These shifts for Republicans, coupled with the low interest among key Democrat support groups bodes well for 2014 but does not solve our Presidential year problem or future challenges with those key groups.

As we focus on the more immediate objective of 2014 victories, those who continue to pursue a longer-term strategy of party-building, policy vision and diversifying the ranks are entirely reasonable in their approach.  Recent research I’ve conducted for GOP-aligned groups suggest there is a path forward for the Republican party among these group that capitalizes not only on the failures of Obamacare, but captures a more positive vision of responsible spending and creating greater economic opportunity.

Our efforts depend, first and foremost, however, on reestablishing some connection and trust with these groups as a party that genuinely cares about their concerns and interests.