World and Nation

Republicans reflect on 2012 performance in blunt report

WASHINGTON — In a sweeping self-critique of the party’s 2012 election efforts, Republican leaders on Monday unveiled a set of proposals aimed at convincing younger voters, ethnic minorities and women that they have a home in the party, even if they do not agree with all of its positions.

“The report minces no words in telling us that we have to be more inclusive,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Monday. “I agree. And as President Reagan said, our 80 percent friend is not our 20 percent enemy.”

The national party’s report, called the Growth and Opportunity Project, is the latest contribution to a conversation among conservatives after disappointing losses in the 2012 presidential and Senate elections. Just days earlier, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, activists debated whether the Republican Party should moderate on issues like immigration or stand firm.

“There’s no one reason we lost” in 2012, Priebus said. “Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We’re — we were behind in both data and digital. And our primary and debate process needed improvement.”

The prescription from the national party largely avoids policy, instead focusing on messaging.

“The way we communicate our principles isn’t resonating widely enough,” Priebus said. “Focus groups described our party as narrow-minded, out of touch and, quote, stuffy old men.”

Priebus announced that the national committee would invest $10 million to bring on new staff members to help appeal to young, female and minority voters. They will be charged with delivering an “aggressive marketing campaign” among those voters about “what it means to be a Republican.”

Drafted by national committee members and party strategists, including Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, the report incorporated feedback from focus groups, online surveys and interviews with activists and consultants.