After the 2012 election, it was clear that the GOP was not only defeated by the Obama campaign, but by itself as well. The voter turnout in 2012 was only slightly lower than in 2008, but the turnout for Obama was significantly less. In 2008 Obama captured 69.4 million votes, but in 2012 he garnered only 65.9 million. Even though the enthusiasm for the Obama campaign waned significantly, the GOP failed to capitalize on it. When one analyzes the statistics though, it's no secret that the GOP failed to appeal to women, minorities, and particularly millennials.
A Gallup poll indicates that 56% of women voted for Obama versus 44% for Romney. Exit polls also show that minorities overwhelmingly supported Obama over Romney. And Pew Research indicates that Obama won 60% of the youth vote. From the so called "war on women," to "47%" debacle, to suppressing and obstructing the youth vote that supported Ron Paul; all of these hurt the GOP at election time, and it showed in the polls. So what does the GOP need to do to reverse these trends?
For starters, the GOP must realize that they cannot legislate morality. The failures of prohibition and the war on drugs are shining examples of this. Freedom and consequently liberty demands that we allow people to make their own personal choices in life, even if they are choices that some of us disagree with. Those same people must also deal with the consequences of their choices as well. This does not mean that conservatives should do nothing in the area of morality though. They can and they should lead by example instead of using government to mandate morality. This realization, that respect for personal liberty brings people together, would be enough to attract many from all walks of life, and the GOP needs to welcome these people.
Personal liberty is not just applicable to moral issues, but economic issues as well. People want economic freedom — which includes keeping more of what they earn through lower taxes. My parents are a perfect example of this as they had emigrated from China seeking economic freedom and opportunity. One of the tenets of the GOP that addresses this very issue of economic freedom is fiscal conservatism. Government spending is out of control with the national debt well over $16 trillion and a 2013 budget deficit estimated at $845 billion. Most people realize that the government can not continue to spend money it does not have. This should be the perfect time to advocate fiscal conservative principles of smaller and more efficient government, and connecting that with lower taxes and economic freedom is key as it transcends all groups.
It is important that the Republicans realize that the time has come to focus on areas that unite people instead of issues that divide them. The GOP can advance the cause of economic freedom and liberty through fiscal conservatism, a principle that the party is known for and an issue that should appeal to all people. However, if the GOP ever wishes to broaden its base and win over millennials, the party must first recognize and respect personal liberty and the diversity that comes along with it.