Longtime Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is not normally in the business of advising Republicans. So when he willingly offers a diagnosis of the GOP's ills and a blueprint for its recovery, the material is worth noting.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, the onetime Clinton pollster and head of Democracy Corps pinpointed four points of vulnerability in the Republican brand.
The party leaders all personify the geographic and ideological base -- namely, southern white conservatives, he said. The emphasis on cultural issues is ill-fitting in the current climate. The strict opposition to the president's economic plans was almost transparent in its motivation. And the criticism of the stimulus was "defining their party as utterly uncaring during this time of crisis."
Taken as whole, Greenberg notes, the proof of GOP malaise is in the pudding. While most recent polling places Republican identification at a paltry 21 percent, his data suggests that there has been no corresponding drop in Democratic affiliation. We are seeing "a rise of Democrats, with the pool of Independents mostly coming out of the Republicans."
Greenberg, who serves as chairman and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, is one of the most respected voices in the business and has worked countless campaigns both at home and abroad. His appreciation for strong statistical basis to political analysis led him, this past week, to pen a biting letter to former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie for data that his new group, Resurgent Republic, released showing a Republican resurgence.
"My first reaction was surprise that they would come in with a party ID that was so favorable to Republicans," he explained. " It was almost a question of strategy for them. If I'm an adviser and coming out with my first poll and trying to establish credibility, I would be pretty cautious about releasing a poll that seemed to be at the Republican end of the spectrum. The second point is that they went on "Meet The Press" and trumpeted their results and had 51 percent opposition to the president's budget. Well, their description was so one-sided, I would have opposed the president's budget as they described it."
If fudging the statistics wasn't enough to bring the GOP back to life, what was? Asked to prescribe a solution for the GOP's decline, Greenberg offered a four-prong approach.
1. "First of all I would have, I would not have the leadership, speaking on behalf of the party that totally represents the base of the party... This is a white southern party and virtually all the voices sound like they are form the white southern market... I'd be putting out, from the party, a broad range of leaders but also people who come geographically from diverse parts of the country."
2. "I would play down the cultural issues... They clearly need a broad approach. They cannot come back to suburban America unless they look like they are not consumed with the cultural issues, particularly in the middle of a crisis."
3. "I would have some Republicans voting with the president and not just slapping his hand when he reaches it out. With every single Republican voting against the budget and every single Republican in the House voting against the stimulus, you send the message that you are simply being political... [GOP leadership should have] let some members go over. You can't just look like you are acting politically in the time of economic crisis... It can't be true that so much of the country is supportive of the president but not one Republican is inclined to be supportive."
4. "I wouldn't be making unemployment insurance the kind of the defining thing that distinguishes Republicans... We are in an economic crisis, with rising unemployment. The point of principle Republicans are making is that were against the extension of unemployment benefits because it's bad for businesses. I mean they are defining their party as utterly uncaring during this time of crisis."