While there are clearly some glimmers of hope for the GOP in the latest NPR survey, there is also some major cautionary notes. The biggest caution of all is that – on four major issue battles, the Democrats have the advantage.

This analysis results are based on a bipartisan survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies together with Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research for National Public Radio, which are not responsible for these conclusions.

Questions 12-15 from the survey matched up the GOP message on an issue against the Democratic message on an issue. The Democratic message won by between six to eleven points on topics ranging from taxes to energy to health care and to the deficit.

This Democratic issue advantage – despite a tie on the generic ballot, and a softening in voter approval for President Obama and his economic policies – underscores the continued weak state of the GOP brand. Given our issue problems in the last four years, this is not a surprise. It underscores that Republican candidates have a significant hurdle to overcome – they have got to work to be credible on issues.

Candidates need to work for new ideas on policies. We must show that we understand the challenges people are facing in this economy. While our party must always retain its anti-tax foundation, simply saying that tax cuts will solve every problem has very little credibility with swing voters.

On an issue like energy, we can’t just be for more of the same. While additional domestic drilling and more nuclear are both supported, we have to be just as passionate about encouraging alternative sources of energy – or we just appeared stuck in the rut of the last century. While our candidates want to hearken back to Ronald Reagan, remember that Reagan offered hope and passion for the future. We must look forwards, not backwards.

Democrats (or would they prefer it if I wrote “Democratics”?) are biting off more than they can chew. But for the GOP to simply stand around and wait for the Dems to self-destruct is not a blueprint for victory. We must take advantage of the opportunities they give us by developing new alternatives and ideas. Voters remain skeptical – and it’s our job to give them reasons to take a second look at us on issues.

Public Opinion Strategies