On anniversary of GOP 'autopsy,' both sides take aim
March 18th, 2014
02:53 PM ET
5 months ago

On anniversary of GOP 'autopsy,' both sides take aim

(CNN) - It's probably not on your calendar but in the political world Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of a symbolically important, self-determined revamp for the Republican Party.

As Republicans march on to the 2014 midterms armed with a plan for success - laid out in a post-election report prescribed from the party's failing in the 2012 - Democrats insist the so-called autopsy has had a negligible effect on transforming the GOP.

Republicans regroup

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman who ordered the report, termed the "Growth and Opportunity Project Effort," said one year later, "I can report that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business."

The effort focused on assessing and improving the GOP's campaign strategy - including ground game and fundraising. It looked at learning lessons from Democrats' successful campaign methods, which helped secure President Barack Obama's second term and propelled the party to a net gain of two seats in the U.S. Senate and eight seats in the House of Representatives.

In an opinion editorial for CNN, Priebus touted his party's multi-million dollar investment in technology - and area where Democrats in recent elections have surged ahead - and new voter outreach efforts. Priebus writes that the RNC is even venturing into Silicon Valley for data tool development for field organizers.

More tangibly, the party has moved to overhaul the Republican presidential election process for 2016, by condensing the primary calendar and punishing states that upend voting order. They are also considering moving the GOP nominating convention to late June instead of late August, when it was held in 2012, and limit the number of Republican presidential primary debates.

One year older... but wiser?

"Three hundred-sixty five days later, all the Republican Party is is another year older," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the rival Democratic National Committee, said at press conference in Washington.

The congresswoman from Florida said Republicans have failed to change their tone towards groups like woman and minorities - blocs that heavily favored Obama over GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

Asked if Democrats are banking on outlandish comments from Republicans in future elections, Schultz pointed to her party's 2013 win in purple state of Virginia, where Democrats now control the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

"We didn't win elections in the last couple cycles on Hail Marys," she said.

Spinning FL-13

In gearing up for the 2014 elections, a special Congressional race in Florida last week gave Republicans a boost of confidence heading into the midterms.

GOP candidate and former Washington lobbyist David Jolly beat out Democrat Alex Sink in the election to fill a seat left vacant by the death last October of longtime Republican Rep. Bill Young.

While the outcome does not change anything for Democrats in their calculus for retaking the House in next November's midterms - they still need to pick up 17 seats - the race was seen as testing the waters for the coming election.

"The power of our new tools and new strategy was on display last week, when we helped David Jolly win an important special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District. That victory has Democrats worried about November," Priebus said in the op-ed.

RNC chairman predicts 'tsunami-type election'

When asked about the results, Wasserman Schultz said Democrats would have liked a win but warned that insight into which party will succeed in the midterms won't come from a special election.

"The reality is that was a special election where the Republicans won in a Republican district," she said. "We know that when Democrats vote, Democrats win so turnout in terms of what the electorate looks like is really critical."

CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.


Filed under: Debbie Wasserman Schultz • DNC • Reince Priebus • RNC
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Tony

    There has been no change in the patient's condition. The patient is still dead.

    March 18, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. wise guy

    You still hate women minorities, and the poor, nope, nothings changed . How's that outreach to African Americans going, let me help, its not. You simply can't hide a hatred that deep, it defines them as a party, just like Christie saying "this doesn't define my administration", BS, that's exactly what it does.

    March 18, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Bill from GA

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz – "Three hundred-sixty five days later, all the Republican Party is is another year older,"

    But Debbie, haven't you heard their NEW ad campaign?? The one where every-day women, blacks, and minorities in general claim, "I'm A Republican"??

    Seems like a rerun of the "I'm A Mormon" campaign Romney's people used. And it worked SO Well for mitts. Made me want to be a Mormon, even if it didn't make me want to vote for mitts. Since I learnt how 'cool' Mormons are. Who Ever Knew!?

    March 18, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. anthny76

    50 AHCA repeal attempts
    More obstruction
    Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi
    Praising Putin, Bashing Obama

    So Republicans learned NOTHING since their 2012 beat down.....

    March 18, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    The Patient is still DEAD.

    March 18, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. rs

    The "Autopsy" was at least honest in its assessment of the state of the GOP. A year later and the question I'd ask Mr. Priebus is this: What has been done specifically to address the relative weakness of the party among minority, age and ethnic groups (i.e. Asians, women, youth, Blacks, Native Americans and so on)- the groups that Mr. Romney failed to gain any traction with?

    This is especially asked in light of the fact that the GOP keeps either trying to promote or pass laws that negatively affect these groups, and the troops keep making either ill informed, or outright antagonistic statements (think of Mr. Ryan's blunder last week) to these same groups.

    An advertisement, or a string of TV ads extolling the wonders of the GOP for minorities wherein the minorities in those ads are played by actors (as in the Koch anti-ACA ads) won't cut it. Nor will a solid 6 year record of obstruction and do-nothing gamesmanship give the GOP much to actually run on.

    AS long as the GOP remains anchored as the party of angry old, White men they will lose in the shifting population landscape of the United States.

    March 18, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "I can report that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business."
    -------------------------------
    They no longer argue that the glass needs to be half empty. They now argue that the glass needs to be half full.

    March 18, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  8. Bill

    Doesn't an "autopsy" mean that the GOP is already DEAD? LOL

    March 18, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Nate Silver's 50-50 odds isn't good for John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Reince Priebus.

    March 18, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    -Rudy NYC

    "I can report that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business."
    -----------
    They no longer argue that the glass needs to be half empty. They now argue that the glass needs to be half full.
    *****************************
    Since they are admitting they are a business, what is their product? Since my vote is an investment, what do I get from the people who have opposed every single constructive idea brought forth in the last 5 years? They are a business that does not want to produce anything we already don't have, yet want to entice you in with promises they have no intention of keeping about products they don't know how to make. They can't even agree on what those promises are, much less how they can unite the country and achieve them. They have stressed the individual so much I doubt they could get the party to agree on anything, much less the country.

    March 18, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. jinx9to88

    Autopsy?? Are you kidding me? More like GOP giving the American people a Colonoscopy.

    March 18, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. jinx9to88

    "The power of our new tools and new strategy was on display last week, when we helped David Jolly win an important special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District. That victory has Democrats worried about November," Priebus said in the op-ed. Does this moron realize that the seat was controlled by GOP for the most of the last 30+ years? Rep has a 13% more voter turnout then the Dems and that the Sink only lost by 2%. This guy bothers me. Dems will win the seat in Nov.

    March 18, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. gary

    New box, same pizza

    March 18, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Can't take the man seriously...he looks like Sheldon Cooper's evil cousin

    March 18, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. wise guy

    He's dead Jim, dead.

    March 18, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    "So Republicans learned NOTHING since their 2012 beat down....."

    Sarah Palin is going to grab the women votes away from the DNC and Rand Paul is going to grab the young votes away from the DNC. Or so says independent thinkers blogging here and there for the Koch Brothers Express.

    March 18, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Vence

    Now they have their Frankenstein. It's alive... It's alive. But it's even worst!

    March 18, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Gunderson

    De Patient dead? That's what the Liberal's thought after they managed to run off President Nixon. So what happened. We had 12 Years of Reagan and Bush. Old Gunderson say, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.But remember. If you like health plan you keep health plan, period.

    March 18, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    See the hatred in the mans face, on the right. It's evident in their every walk of life. All you have to do is look.

    March 18, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    You can change your messaging all you want, gop, but actions speak louder than words – and you are intent on screwing the American people.

    March 18, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC
    "I can report that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business."
    -----------
    They no longer argue that the glass needs to be half empty. They now argue that the glass needs to be half full.
    ----------
    And if you are poor and have only a little in the bottom of your glass and I have a lot in my glass, then you have only yourself to blame. Not let me help you by dumping a little more into my glass. Don't worry – I will leave you a few drops. I will take a trickle down on you sometime.

    Notice they still believe the same, just the PR is different.

    March 18, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    blah blah rinse priebus blah blah blah

    Who cares? All you Dems and Independents (and the few thinking Republicans left) get out and vote on November 4, 2014 for the folks who'll continue our country moving forward: Democrats.

    March 18, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Malory Archer

    jinx9to88

    "The power of our new tools and new strategy was on display last week, when we helped David Jolly win an important special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District. That victory has Democrats worried about November," Priebus said in the op-ed. Does this moron realize that the seat was controlled by GOP for the most of the last 30+ years? Rep has a 13% more voter turnout then the Dems and that the Sink only lost by 2%. This guy bothers me. Dems will win the seat in Nov.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Actually, that seat was occupied by the same person for 40+ years, and was only in Democratic hands for one brief two-year period back in the early 1970s. Additionally, the district was redrawn in 2012 to cut out the entire southeastern quadrant of St. Petersburg – an area heavily populated by mittens' "47%". Had that chunk of voters NOT been tossed out of 14, the professional lobbyist turned congressman would have lost by an embarrassing margin, but gerrymandering being what it is, they were BARELY able to keep the seat out of Dem hands. Also take into account the fact that only half of the municipalities in Pinellas County had candidates/issues on the ballot (and St. Pete wasn't one of them). HOWEVER, come November, voters from ALL of Pinellas County's 24 municipalities and additonal unincorporated areas will go to the polls to vote OUT the most unpopular governor in America – who also just happens to have an "R" after his name, so the professional lobbyist turned congressman could very easily be shown the door.

    March 18, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. jinx9to88

    "I can report that we've fundamentally reshaped the way we do business." Preibus said. Translation – GOP will cheat to win!!

    March 18, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |