RNC to see what went wrong

Priebus asks five party leaders for a full review

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The Republican National Committee on Monday said it planned a searching look into what went wrong in 2012’s presidential election and how the GOP can respond to the nation’s shifting demographics and adopt more effective political strategies.

In addition to losing the presidential race, the party lost seats in the Senate in a year in which many thought the GOP stood a chance of seizing control of the chamber, and will have a reduced majority in the House of Representatives next year as well.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus asked a group of five respected party leaders to examine how the party can better talk with voters, raise money from donors and learn from Democrats’ tactics. Mr. Priebus also asked the group, known as the Growth and Opportunity Project, to look at how campaigns are best organized and deployed, how they can work with independent groups such as so-called super PACs, and how the party should approach the 2016 presidential primaries as part of a top-to-bottom review.

The panel “will recommend a plan to further ensure Republicans are victorious in 2013, 2014, 2016 and beyond,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement.

Mr. Romney’s loss on Nov. 6 to President Obama has not only left the GOP without a clear leader but with many questions about its future. Exit polls indicated the president carried female, black, Hispanic and Asian voting blocs. He also won among voters under the age of 45 and those who lived in mid- to large-sized cities.

That adds up to a quandary for a party looking ahead to gubernatorial races next year in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as to 2014’s midterm elections.

Former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer and Sally Bradshaw, a veteran strategist and top adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, are among those leading the inquiry. Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour, a GOP strategist and nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, will also be part of the group. RNC members Zori Fonalledas of Puerto Rico and Glenn McCall of South Carolina round out the five-person committee.

Republican officials said the group would have access to RNC aides and would eventually talk to hundreds of party leaders and rank-and-file voters to better understand how the GOP came up short. After the election, top Republicans groused that Mr. Romney’s campaign struggled to communicate effectively with voters, woo crucial demographic groups and break through with a winning strategy.

The party registered major gains in 2010’s elections, having the biggest midterm gains since 1938. Yet two years later, the party didn’t capture the biggest prize in American politics, the presidency. Despite solid fundraising from the party and quick work from Mr. Romney after he won the nomination, the GOP couldn’t overcome the president’s four-year head start and his on-the-ground advantages.

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