The Republican Party will have a formidable task of finding a 2016 presidential candidate capable of challenging presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but there are six key things the GOP must do if it is to have a chance at capturing the White House, political expert Larry Sabato says in an article for Politico Magazine.
"Suppose the Republicans could construct an ideal contender for 2016 — someone who could actually win without repealing the essential components of the GOP platform. What would the candidate look like?" Sabato wrote.
"The Republican eventually crowned in Cleveland is bound to be pro-free markets, pro-life on abortion and critical of Obamacare, high taxes, big spending, and massive debt, to mention just a handful of issues," Sabato said.
But finding an ideal candidate is just one challenge for the GOP in 2016, Sabato said.
"Even assuming the GOP nominee will have the requisite charisma, surely the party would have to present a somewhat different face."
Sabato outlined six things the Republican Party would need to do to get voters to back its nominee:
- Act on changing demographics by campaigning aggressively with minority communities and engaging on issues of substance.
- Modernize on at least one social issue, perhaps same-sex marriage, so as to shed its outdated image.
- Present an alternative to Obamacare instead of just being the "Party of No."
- Champion the populist issue of corporate welfare and waste in the same way the party blasts social welfare programs.
- Capitalize on the scandals of the Obama administration during the primary to energize the base.
- Develop some innovative positions that make the public reconsidering supporting the GOP.
Sabato says that while the GOP may struggle to prevail in 2016, the Democrats will have their own challenges.
Specifically, the president's low job approval could give the Republicans a boost, and electoral history suggests that an incumbent party isn't capable of securing a third term in power, he said.
Nevertheless, Sabato said, Clinton will continue to have significant advantages, one of which is that her strengths and weaknesses are already well-known.
"It's a polarized era with intense ideology, yet the elements of victory must still include pragmatism and a healthy respect for the views of the voters — the people who alone pick winners and losers," Sabato wrote.
"A party headed for defeat insists that the electorate conform to the superior wisdom of its platform; a party creating the conditions for success defers to the voters' opinions — even if that requires painful compromise with principle."
Sabato concluded by saying, "In 2016 the GOP and its nominee will either project the substance and image of a Grand New Party, or the Republicans' years in the wilderness will continue."
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