Schoen: Republicans Need Change and Hope

Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013 11:05 AM

By Cyrus Afzali and Kathleen Walter

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The Republican Party needs to create a more optimistic and inclusive message if it’s going to capitalize on opportunities to regain the House and the presidency, Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax.

“They need to offer hope,” he said. “They need to be inclusive and offer a path to growth, economic development, and job creation.”

But Schoen, whose new book, “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond,” points out, “So far the Republicans haven’t done it. All they’ve done is oppose Obama and, as the polls show, that’s just not enough.”

Schoen believes that so far Republicans are letting frustration cloud their ability to articulate a competing ideology to Democratic plans.

Obama or GOP: Who’s to Blame for Budget Crisis? Vote Now

“When I talk to Republicans, I just get a sense of abject frustration about their place. They need to go through an exercise like the Democrats did in the 1980s and 1990s and come up with an alternative vision and agenda.”

Turning to the current budget impasse, Schoen believes President Barack Obama’s administration made a mistake to paint a scenario of “gloom and doom” regarding the forced cuts that took effect over the weekend when the House and Senate was unable to negotiate a substitute deal.

“What the administration should have been doing was trying to negotiate a deal with Republicans to avoid the sequester and dealing with our long-term budgetary problems,” Schoen said. “Instead, the administration, for their own reasons, decided to engage in fear tactics.”

Schoen believes both sides are equally responsible for the budget impasse and that it could take a toll on both parties.

“We need some additional revenue and we certainly need to cut spending. The fact that both sides are being intransigent is bad for America and the American people are getting very frustrated,” he said.

He believes that more Republicans should warm to the potential for tax increases, if they are part of a long-term budget deal.

“You can do tax reform, lower rates, get rid of deductions and raise additional revenue, but you’ll have to make tough choices to do that,” he said. “If I were the Republicans, I would not take anything off the table before negotiating.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential elections, Schoen believes that Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio would likely defer to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush if Bush decides to run for the nomination. He also believes Republicans have a chance at taking back the Senate due to competitive races in Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Montana. To do better on the national stage, however, Schoen believes the party’s candidates will have to be more inclusive.

“The Republicans can’t write off immigrants. You saw that the Republicans got less than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote and that’s not enough to win the presidency,” he said.

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