Can the GOP move past tea party "number crunching"?
Adding to the challenge is the Republican notion that Mr. Obama has refused to engage in a serious discussion about deficits and debt, or spending cuts. "While he refuses to talk about them, we've become fixated on talking about them," Holt said.
Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who attended last week's House Republican retreat, told CBSNews.com that her research following the presidential election bears that out. Republicans lost last year, she said, in part because they weren't framing their discussion about the economy in terms that matter most to voters (Conway's research shows voters largely care about economic security and affordability). Additionally, she said, the GOP's focus on the economy was just too overwhelming.
The economy, Conway noted, has for several years been the top issue for the plurality of voters -- around 42 percent of voters, she said.
"The Romney people thought [focusing on] the economy would be enough," Conway said. "It's not enough. The 42 percent dismisses the other 58 percent... [The GOP] put too much emphasis on the economy to the exclusion of things like foreign policy, immigration, education and, frankly, to the exclusion of necessities like using new media to reach voters."
Republicans are now working on expanding their agenda -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for instance, is leading the way on immigration. They're also working on updating their operations, so they can catch up to the Democrats' ground game and use of new media.
"We need to empower, equip and train our candidates, volunteers, and operatives," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus plans to say today at the winter meeting, "whether it's a college activist recruiting volunteers in Pasadena or a small businesswoman running for town council in New Jersey. Let's host Skype-based training sessions and Google hangouts on campaign strategy, fundraising, door-to-door advocacy, and digital tools... In the digital space, we don't want just to keep up. We want to seize the lead."
Priebus and Jindal are not only prescribing a more sophisticated technical network but also a stronger, broader grassroots network. Jindal said yesterday that the party needs to "re-orient our focus to the place where conservatism thrives - in the real world beyond the Washington Beltway." Priebus, in his planned remarks, notes that "it's time to stop looking at elections through the lens of 'battleground states.' We have four years till the next presidential election, and being a 'blue state' is not a permanent diagnosis."
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