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Making 2016’s “Big Tent” Strategy Work

Making 2016’s “Big Tent” Strategy Work

Bigger, brighter, and 100% more willing to work for votes

“The faces of the Republican Party’s most ambitious members are changing,” says the latest MSM mini-mashup of the GOP’s 2016 presidential hopes. In the same breath, after describing Republicans’ sweep of the midterms, comes the inevitable chaser:

The GOP’s success may be misleading, however.

I’ve watched the Republican machine during the past two presidential election cycles, and based on those observations, I’m not going to hold that one against the AP. One of our greatest talents as professional conservative politicians is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory—and we have enough second place trophies to prove it.

For more than a few reasons, though, 2016 could be different.

More from AP’s Big Story:

Long criticized as the party of old white men, the GOP’s next class of presidential contenders may include two Hispanic senators, an Indian-American governor, a female business leader and an African-American neurosurgeon. In a group that could exceed a dozen Republican White House prospects, all but a few are in their 40s or 50s, while one of the oldest white men is a fluent Spanish speaker whose wife is a native Mexican.

The diverse group is a point of pride for those Republicans who have long pushed for a welcoming “big tent” party.

“This is a diverse nation, and we need to be a diverse party,” said Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and only Republican woman openly weighing a 2016 bid. “That doesn’t mean we sacrifice our principles, but it means we need to look like and understand and empathize with the nation.”

Republican strategists hope that a more diverse slate of candidates will help appeal to a growing minority population that has given Democrats a decided advantage in the last two presidential contests.

I love the fact that we have candidates willing to get out there and use the “D-word.” And by “D” I mean “diversity,” which is going to be the magic word in 2016 not only as we discuss issues of race, gender, and economic status, but as we build strategies to reach and corner the market on blocs of voters who have never supported Republicans until now.

The problem with patting ourselves on the back for having younger, more diverse, more dynamic candidates is that having young, diverse, and dynamic candidates doesn’t automatically change how voters will view them in terms of their party. What should be appealing on paper will bomb at the polls if its packaged wrong.

As far as 2016 is concerned, it’s the packaging of our candidates that concerns me more than the candidates themselves. This year’s midterms were historic in terms of wins versus losses, but that never would have happened had it not been for candidates fundamentally changing the way they ask for votes.

In Texas, incumbent Senator John Cornyn literally made history by becoming the first statewide Republican candidate to ever carry the Hispanic vote—and he didn’t do it via wishful thinking. Senator Cornyn’s team used a microtargeted strategy to engage with new and diverse communities, build relationships, and explain why conservative policies lead to stronger economies and happier families. Texas Attorney General and Governor-Elect Greg Abbott used similar strategies to reach out to voters who tend to embrace conservative policies, but who hadn’t voted recently—sometimes in over a decade. Their political foils complained that the two men “looked like Republicans,” (as in, they are both older, white men,) but they won anyway because their campaigns made their outreach strategies less about the man, and more about how the man was working on behalf of everyone.

Truth bomb: making sure voters know that a candidate (and the candidate’s staff) cares about every community is more effective than flogging through messaging Napalm one demographic at a time—and this is where 2016 will be won or lost.

This rings true whether we eventually run a Marco Rubio or a Jeb Bush. People need to feel connected to a candidate; they need to feel like the candidate cares bout their lives and concerns, and this only happens when your strategy focuses 100% on voters as people. 100% agreement is impossible, but being willing to listen to problems before insisting that conservatism is common sense will do wonders for what many consider to be a damaged brand. Having a darker skin tone, or a more libertarian message, matters little if the packaging screams “EVERYTHING YOU’VE SEEN BEFORE AND NEVER WANTED!”

2016 is ours to lose—and we will lose it if we don’t take that point to heart.


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It’s a shame that the “Big Tent” for the GOP and Bush doesn’t include conservative middle Americans.

NO BUSH! No way, no how. IF the “chamber of commerce” thinks that they can get “amnesty” passed and make their hope of a permanent cheap underclass that will work for pennys, they will support the prog/socialist candidate. And I’ll tell you right now, if the “establishment” gets Bush or Christie or Romney on the ballot, I WILL STAY HOME! And NONE of my money is going to a “R”epublican committee. I don’t want MY MONEY going to the likes of anti-gun candidates like King of NY or other RINO’s. I’ll give directly to Cruz or Perry or someone else is that NOT A RINO!

taking election “advice” from the MFM is a rube’s game.

and Jeb needs to FOADIAF.

Clinton/Bush 2016: two peas, one pod.

“’s the packaging of our candidates that concerns me more than the candidates themselves…”

It worries me to think that a principled candidate…a candidate who can articulate Conservative principles and actually BELIEVES THEM…needs to be “packaged”. Who will be appointed to do the packaging, the media? Big government “architects” like Karl Rove and “America Crossroads”? I’ll never forget how Thad Cochran was “packaged” in Mississippi? “Chris’ McDaniel gon’ take yo’ food stamps!”

Individual liberty, personal property rights, and a Federal Government granted certain powers by the citizenry ought to be an easy sell.

    Individual liberty, personal property rights, and a Federal Government granted certain powers by the citizenry ought to be an easy sell.

    Have you spent the last half-century in a remote Nepalese monastery?

    Part of our problem is too many conservatives seem to believe that the mere articulation of our principles will act as some magic incantation to which the electorate will surely respond. And yet these same people are regularly not only dissatisfied, but angry with our nominees and our leadership.

    They can’t even win the nomination of the Republican Party, yet are convinced their assertions will carry the general election.

    Frankly, it’s a preposterous assumption.

      DDsModernLife in reply to Estragon. | December 30, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      “They can’t even win the nomination of the Republican Party,…”

      The Republican Party does NOT like Conservatism…limited government doesn’t enrich the ruling class nearly as effectively as a big, bloated, ubiquitous central government. Therefore, the Party consistently resists Conservative candidates and tries (vainly, on the last couple of attempts) to drag a big-government “moderate” across the finish line.

      A good portion of the electorate has never been presented with a Conservative candidate for President! Why assume that when finally given the choice, the voters would reject Conservatism?

      (Perhaps that’s the “preposterous assumption.”)

America is doomed. Duck Dynasty over Bush Dynasty in 2016.

What does “diversity” get the Republicans? It gets them Carly Fiorina. What a disaster zone. Might as well concede the next election right now.

Keep making it bigger, and don’t worry that all except the outer six inches has collapsed. Good grief.

Uh Amy, you do know that conservatives haven’t actually snatched anything since Reagan. You do know that, right?

All I know is that if Jeb is the nominee then we will have President Clinton or Warren.

So, the GOP is embracing identity politics, and this is supposed to excite the already hostile base? Right… If it does, it won’t be the way they presume it will.

“That doesn’t mean we sacrifice our principles, but it means we need to look like and understand and empathize with the nation.” Expect the first half of the sentence to come to pass, regardless of the second.

The GOP will accomplish the next-to-impossible if it gets me no to pull the lever for Gary Johnson in 2016. I’d wager it’ll have a tougher time getting enough Dems to cross the aisle.

Education is a priority for me and Jeb Bush is in bed with Core. He actively participated in the development of their standards and still argues in favor of them. No way I am voting for him. Where do we find these dolts?

Bush. Clinton. Ipecac syrup.

Polls at this point are meaningless, mainly a function of name recognition (which, incidentally, accounts for roughly 100% of Hillary’s supposed strength).

Bush is very beatable, but only if conservatives unite behind a qualified and electable candidate early, someone like Walker, Jindal, or even Perry. If the movement scatters into two or three groups behind their own ‘perfect’ candidates, as has happened in the past, the results will be similar to past ones.

– –

Rand Paul is as big a threat to conservatives as Jeb, maybe bigger. He starts with his father’s roughly 10% libertarian vote, and will get most of their energy, but any additional support he gains from conservatives will undermine a conservative contender.

– –

Amy…sweet young thing she is…repeatedly acts like “diversity” is a brand new invention of her generation.

It ain’t. Being Conservative has always been about PEOPLE, and we just never cared about extraneous bullshit classifiers of PEOPLE. We have left that nonsense to the Collective.

As I’ve said for a couple of decades: all brains are grey.

    gregjgrose in reply to Ragspierre. | December 30, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”

    ― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

    Conservatives even value dead people, ‘magine that

DevilsPrinciple | December 30, 2014 at 9:08 am

Why is there such a hard sell on Bush in an attempt to sell him as a conservative?

Another Bush in the WH, I think not..

Ms. Miller’s point, I see, was not recognized by the other commenters.

She’s not shilling for Jeb Bush. Not in this post at least.

She’s pointing out that whoever the Pub candidate is, that candidate has to shift the focus of the campaign to what the conservative message means and does for ordinary voters.

Mittens could have used that advice, as could have McCain. As could some conservative favorites who under-performed in Senate races in 2010 and 2014. As sweet as 54 seats is in the Senate, 58 would have been sweeter.

Re-read the paragraph about what Gov.-elect Abbott’s campaign did — contacting voters who hadn’t voted in a decade and explaining to them how a Governor Abbott would benefit them. Hello, Governor Romney, you might have considered doing that yourself in the last cycle given that you were always short of votes.

Re-read this: “Senator Cornyn’s team used a microtargeted strategy to engage with new and diverse communities, build relationships, and explain why conservative policies lead to stronger economies and happier families.” We as conservatives believe that statement: conservative policies DO lead to better outcomes. The old way of selling with Rovian TV ads hasn’t worked. But micro-targeting (a modern way of saying, ‘reach out to voters one at a time’) does work.

Does anyone think that the Pub ’16 candidate, WHOEVER that is, will win by running a McCain or Romney style candidate? Anyone? Bueller?

Ms. Miller isn’t flonking a candidate in this post. She’s reminding us that the old ways of electing a Pub president won’t work anymore. Whoever your favorite candidate is, that’s the lesson for ’16.

Jeb said that he saw LBJ as his role model. This disqualifies him for the office as LBJ was the 2nd worst president in modern history, one step above the worst Tyrant Obama the Liar.

It would be very nice if the Republican Party would stop trying to change to “include” everyone, and instead push conservative, small govt solutions to problems.

Problem is, the Republican Party does not believe in conservative, small govt solutions to problems.