One of the biggest challenges the GOP will face in 2016 will be how to win over greater numbers of nonwhite voters.
But it doesn’t seem that this kind of soul-searching is something the conservative base is going to get fired up about. At the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, the most thorough discussion about how to win over “nontraditional voting blocs” came in the late afternoon, with a panel discussion entitled “Reaching Out.” It managed to fill up about one-third of the main ballroom.
“You’ve got to show up and not come when you need them but come when they need you,” said Bob Woodson, president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. “It bothers me when people say low-income people respond to gifts…. Nobody wants to be dependent. Let’s assume that people want a hand up, not a handout. What liberals do is they at least express their concern.”
The panelists offered their thoughts on how to make inroads in minority communities: Don’t pander by simply going on tours or seeking photo ops; invest money into multilingual messaging and reach out to Spanish-language media; develop long-lasting relationships with community leaders; and find issues, like helping former prisoners secure jobs, where inroads can be made.
Some of the marquee speakers at CPAC did tout policy, such as bolstering charter schools, that could garner support from some nonwhite voters. But compared with last year’s CPAC, where a major focus was wooing Latino voters, delving into the main themes of the postelection GOP autopsy report seems to have lost steam. No mention of immigration reform came from major speakers Thursday, with just one panel dedicated to the topic of citizenship.
The first speaker to really talk about immigration was Donald Trump. “We’re either a country or we’re not,” he said, when advocating for a strong border. The audience burst into applause.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would have been well positioned to deliver remarks on how to win over more nonwhite voters; he won 51 percent of Hispanics and 21 percent of African-Americans last year. But given Christie’s recent problems back in New Jersey, and his dropping poll numbers among Republicans, he perhaps had more pressing concerns to address with his speech.
The coming days at CPAC could feature more discourse on the importance of minority voters. Sen. Rand Paul, who will speak Friday, has been touring the country, sitting at roundtables with African-American leaders and students, in an effort to reach out. Ben Carson, who speaks Saturday, has been known to lash out against the assumption that blacks should be considered default Democrats.
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The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.