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Off to the races: Breaking down the RNC report

“If it were a case study at Harvard Business School, the client’s failures would have been glaring: The message was off, the preparation was lacking, and the whole structure needed work,” the Boston Globe writes. “But this was no business being reviewed, and it wasn’t being performed by an unfriendly reviewer. This was the withering take that the Republican Party had on the campaign of its former standard bearer, Mitt Romney -- the private-equity executive who touted his ability to turn around underperforming companies -- in one of the most comprehensive dissections of the 2012 presidential election. The analysis indelibly sets the legacy of Romney’s 2012 election, as recorded in the party’s official review, as a mission marred by multiple blunders.”

Here’s some messaging for you… Henry Barbour, who was on the board that helped write the RNC report, said this about Barack Obama yesterday: "We've got a socialist in office right now -- how's that working for us?" How’s that going to fly when you try to reach out to black voters. (H/T: Political Wire)

Politico: “The GOP’s prescription to cure the ills that helped bring on yet another disastrous presidential cycle would revamp its presidential nominating rules in ways to benefit well-funded candidates and hamper insurgents - a move that quickly heated up the already smoldering feud between the Republican establishment and the tea party-inspired base. Tucked in near the end of the 97-page report, formally known as The Growth and Opportunity Project, are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions. Each of those steps would benefit a deep-pocketed candidate in the mold of Mitt Romney.”

The RNC wants primaries and not caucuses. But the Boston Globe notes, “If Iowa switches to a primary, it would disrupt a sort of gentlemen’s agreement with New Hampshire that has allowed the two states to operate in relative harmony.” Said Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party: “That would an irreconcilable conflict. If they were to switch to a primary and schedule it before New Hampshire, that would be a big problem.”

But the Des Moines Register doesn’t see any conflict, and Iowa certainly has no plans to change its caucus system: “The report…seems to bode well for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. It doesn’t specifically call for keeping Iowa first, but it gives a nod to tradition.” It then cites the actual language: “Recognizing the traditions of several states that have early nominating contests, the newly organized primaries would begin only after the ‘carve-out’ states have held their individual elections.”

By the way, if you think Rick Santorum isn’t considering running in 2016, think again. He participated in a Q&A with, who else, the Des Moines Register, about the future of the Republican Party. “I think this year’s presidential race showed that we as a Party, up and down the entire ticket, need to nominate candidates who can comfortably address the entire spectrum of issues facing our nation,” he said. “We cannot pigeon hole ourselves into just talking about the economy. Yes, the economy is important, but our candidates need to be comfortable in their skin and well-versed in talking about issues beyond just spending and taxes. When you are not comfortable and when you are not sincere, people see right through you. Moderate voters may not always agree with us, but they respect passionate politicians who believe what they are saying.”

Rush Limbaugh disagrees with the RNC report. “They think they got landslided, and they didn't, but they're acting like they did, and they think they did. … They think they've gotta rebrand and it's all predictable. They gotta reach out to minorities. They gotta moderate their tone here and moderate their tone there.  And that's not at all what they've gotta do. The Republican Party lost because it's not conservative.  It didn't get its base out in the 2012 election.”

Ann Coulter was echoing similar don’t moderate sentiments at CPAC, especially on immigration, calling herself now a “single-issue voter.”

Anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony List, as well as Tea Party Patriots, also slammed the report, notes NBC’s Kasie Hunt. Here’s part of SBA List’s release from President Marjorie Dannenfelser: “In the last election, Republican candidates failed to properly engage on the pro-life issue and this latest report shows they have failed to learn from it. Rather than seeking to grow and mobilize the energetic pro-life majority, the GOP has allowed itself to operate solely on the defensive. Social issues are keys to reaching certain minorities the GOP yearns to attract, as well as to motivate millions of voters who first gravitated to the party as Reagan Democrats.”

But a reality check: As we noted in our Rick Santorum CPAC speech write up, this idea that the conservative base didn’t go out in 2012 is a myth. The percentage of white evangelicals actually was higher in this election than in 2004, when they were credited with getting George W. Bush reelected, potentially leading to a permanent “Red America.” Demographics have changed. There are more Hispanics in the country than ever – and they’re underperforming they’re actual population, African Americans voted in record percentages as did Asian Americans.

Charlie Cook: “It may not be too melodramatic to say that over the next couple of years, the Republican Party faces a fork in the road. Following one path, the GOP can seek to address what has gone wrong, the narrowness of the party’s appeal, and the intolerance that has alienated so many minority, female, young, and moderate voters that Republicans have a hard time prevailing in federal races outside of carefully drawn conservative enclaves. Taking the other road could lead the party over a cliff in 2016, in much the same way Barry Goldwater led Republicans to disaster in 1964.”

National Journal: “Back in 2004, it was a given that a presidential candidate couldn’t win the Democratic nomination -- let alone the general election -- while supporting gay marriage. Less than decade later, Democrats understand they have no chance at winning without supporting gay marriage.”

“Support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade. Fifty-eight percent of Americans now say it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to wed,” Gary Langer writes. “That number has grown sharply in ABC News/Washington Post polls, from a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, advancing to a narrow majority for the first time only two years ago, and now up again to a significant majority for the first time.”

MASSACHUSETTS: Ed Markey keeps racking up the endorsements. The Boston Globe: “The Massachusetts branch of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts today endorsed Congressman Edward J. Markey in the special election for the U.S. Senate, as the Democratic candidates continue to battle for labor backing.”

SOUTH CAROLINA: Only about 30,000 people are expected to vote in today’s special election for SC-1 with ex-Gov. Mark Sanford hoping to complete a political comeback. To win the primary, a candidate needs to break 50% to avoid an April 2 runoff. Polls close at 7:00 pm ET.

The State newspaper: “With former Gov. Mark Sanford well in front of the GOP pack, according to most polls, the Republican able to join him in an expected runoff will have to turn out supporters at the polls en mass, according to advisers for the various campaigns.” More: “Sanford is expected to take about a third of the Republican vote and slide into a first-place finish. But he is not expected to take a majority, making an April 2 runoff against today’s second-place finisher likely.”

So who could be No. 2? “Last-minute campaign rumblings and internal polls indicate Curtis Bostic, a former Charleston County Council member, is making a big push to be that candidate. Bostic has put about $100,000 of his own money into the race, far less than some of the other challengers, and has run fewer TV spots. However, the Charleston attorney is picking up steam among evangelical church congregations and parents who home school their children. Bostic belongs to both groups and has hosted radio shows on three Christian radio stations in the past 15 years.”

And how about this: “Today’s primaries marks the first elections under the state’s new law requiring voters to bring their photo IDs to the polls.”