Zogby tells GOP: Change your message

The Republican Party needs to drastically change its message in order to win elections in 2014, according to political pollster John Zogby.

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Zogby said Republicans should focus on job creation and move away from conservative positions on immigration and social issues, such as birth control and gay marriage.

“If the Republican Party is to have hope, it has to change the message. And the entrepreneurship message has potential,” said Zogby at an event held by the Institute for Education on Tuesday evening at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“But entrepreneurism does not translate into tax cuts. Young people have to be entrepreneurs, but young people aren’t asking for tax cuts. They’re asking for gigs, jobs, [and] contracts.”

A key problem for Republicans is that the party has largely relied on white voters and evangelical supporters, Zogby said. But that demographic is shrinking, he said, adding that the GOP needs to appeal to the growing voting groups of Latinos and African Americans if it hopes to survive.

“I’m not going to say necessarily that we’re talking about, as a couple of authors have suggested, an emerging Democratic majority,” he said. “But I am going to say that there’s an emerging GOP problem. And demographics are a huge part of the problem.”

Zogby said that 40 percent of Latinos identify themselves as conservatives in polls conducted by his company. But Latino voters, with the help of Democratic messaging, take the GOP’s overwhelming opposition to illegal immigration as evidence that the party is against immigrants. And the anti-immigrant positions translate into being against Latinos, said Zogby.

“They have to get off this immigration thing. It’s deadly,” he said. “That’s a hard one to cleanse.”

Zogby said the GOP also needs to make a concerted effort to run and elect more moderate candidates, such as retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio). The Tea Party support that helped deliver Republicans a majority in 2010 is dwindling, said Zogby, pointing to 18 Tea Party candidates who lost elections earlier this month.

“The Republicans are done if they run as a conservative party with no central appeal,” said Zogby.

“It’s hard to see a scenario for them. It’s easier to see congressional districts that are gerrymandered to be safe. But when it comes to a national vote it’s very difficult to see Republicans winning a base election when that base is shrinking.”

Libertarians, however, may become a burgeoning part of the GOP's base if the party moves appropriately, said Zogby. 

“While I see this growing libertarianism, I don’t know where libertarians are going to park, especially young libertarians,” he said.

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