Ralph Reed talks about priorities for Republicans going forward:
Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, did not attend the meeting but said a representative from his organization did. Reed said that in the short term, his group is in discussion with congressional leaders about protecting tax deductions for charitable donations. Long term, Reed said, before “marketing and messaging and technology” is retooled, Republicans and conservatives need to ask themselves, “What’s your agenda, where do you want to take the country?”
“Immigration is going to be a part of that – a softer pro-family agenda is part of that,” he said, meaning less of a focus on “sexuality” and more on issues such as “strengthening the family, improving education. You know, really being pro-family where people live.”
That does not mean changing positions on same-sex marriage, Reed said. He said Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage this year only helped him “on the margins” and motivated some conservatives against the president.
Republicans have now lost four of the six presidential elections since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. A season of soul-searching will be healthy, and it is needed to retool and rebrand the party.
Yet despite the stinging defeat and a post-electoral narrative that suggests otherwise, Republicans need not abandon their principles. They must resist the temptation to form a circular firing squad, especially one with evangelicals and their social-conservative allies in the middle.
Conservative evangelicals are arguably the largest single constituency in the electorate. According to a postelection survey by Public Opinion Strategies, self-identified conservative evangelicals made up 27% of voters in 2012, voting 80% for Mitt Romney compared with 19% for Barack Obama. This represented a net swing of 14 points toward the GOP ticket since 2008 and made up 48% of the entire Romney vote. Mr. Romney, a lifelong Mormon, actually received more evangelical votes thanGeorge W. Bush did in 2004.
To be sure, the Republicans need to build bridges to Hispanics and minorities, women and younger voters. But unlike the conventional wisdom, social issues properly framed are one of the keys to a stronger, more diverse Republican coalition.
According to Gallup, a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life, including one-third of Democrats. Younger voters are one of the most pro-life segments of the electorate, with 51% of college-age “millennials” stating that having an abortion is morally wrong. A 2012 survey of voters 30 years or younger by Naral Pro-Choice America found that pro-life voters were twice as likely as their pro-choice peers to say abortion is an important issue in determining their vote.
Despite the Obama campaign’s accusation of a Republican “war on women,” Mr. Obama actually won women by a narrower margin than he did in 2008; he lost married women by seven points. Nor did single women—who went heavily Mr. Obama’s way—vote on reproductive issues. Forty-five percent of single women voters listed jobs and the economy as their most important issues, while only 8% said abortion.
To win [Hispanic voters'] support, Republicans must favor a secure border without sounding anti-immigrant. They should welcome those who come to this country legally and play by the rules, while stressing education reform, economic opportunity and lower taxes and regulation on minority-owned businesses.
Therefore, Republicans should resist the catcalls urging them to give the cold shoulder to evangelicals and other voters of faith who make up the overwhelming majority of their voters. Instead, they must do more: They must practice the politics of addition by reaching out to Hispanics, Asians, women and young people, millions of whom share these same time-honored values.