Mitt Romney's lead campaign strategist in the 2012 presidential election called on the Republican Party in a recent op-ed to shift its policy positions on issues like gay marriage and contraceptives in order to attract younger voters.
In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Sunday, Stuart Stevens said that while many political pundits have been blaming Mitt Romney's loss in the 2012 presidential elections on the technological failings of his campaign – that was only a part of the problem. The other side that wasn't being mentioned in the discussion, he said, was substantive policy issues that younger voters seem to care about and is a demographic that Romney didn't connect with sufficiently in his campaign.
"I don't think it's very controversial to suggest that a candidate who favors gay marriage and free contraception might have more appeal to a younger demographic," wrote Stevens. "Does anyone want to argue that free contraception is seen as a more pressing issue to your average 21-year-old than to a 55-year-old voter, or that there are more gay rights organizations on college campuses than in VFW halls?
"A Republican renaissance will inevitably be driven by policy. Parties must constantly reinvent themselves and prove their relevance to voters," he added.
While agreeing that capitalizing on the use of technological resources was a bit of a handicap for the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential elections, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said shifting gears on the Party's policy position will only make things worse.
"That is a recipe for political catastrophe. You don't remake your party successfully by ejecting half of your base," said Land on Tuesday regarding Stevens' policy suggestions. "That's like the Democrats ejecting the labor unions."
Land pointed out that half of Romney's votes came from social conservatives, and if he had run with the immigration policy that social conservatives "begged" him to promote in 2012, he might have won the election. "Evangelicals urged Romney to change his position on immigration," said Land, but Romney didn't. Land sees immigration as the Republican Party's biggest challenge.
He believes the Republican Party can become more attractive by recasting itself as a party of 'Main Street' instead of the party of 'Wall Street,' and a party of aspirations rather than a party of dependency.
Research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that in 2001, 57 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage while 35 percent supported it. By 2012, 48 percent said they supported same-sex marriage while 43 percent opposed.
According to the Pew data, however, a significant majority of white and black evangelical Protestants and most Republicans (75 percent) oppose same-sex marriage.
Last Friday, the Obama administration filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which keeps the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples legally married in states and called the law unconstitutional.