More than half of Republican congressional candidates across the country are trying to expand their bases and tap into a growing enthusiasm for Trump’s populist agenda, a new report from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute found.
While the party’s base has grown steadily, and the party is now in control of both chambers of Congress, it is still missing a key component of the party: the ability to unite across racial and ethnic lines.
“The most effective and sustainable way to get the party to win in November is for Republicans to reach out to black, Hispanic, and Asian voters,” the report found.
“But while there are some good ways to do this, it takes a very big tent approach.
You can’t just get a small percentage of the Republican base to support you, you need to get it to the majority of the American people.”
The report was released Monday as the party prepares to hold its annual retreat in Orlando, Fla., where some candidates are planning to speak.
“It’s a moment to refocus on the principles that have made this party so successful in the past, and to re-affirm those principles as the only way to beat Democrats in 2020,” said Republican Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
Sanford, who is running for re-election, noted that the party has made significant strides in the last decade.
But the report, which analyzed candidates’ past endorsements, endorsements by party officials and media coverage, found that only 3 percent of Republican candidates had signed on to the party platform in 2020.
That was down from about 30 percent in 2020, the same year a similar study found that 12 percent of Republicans had endorsed Trump.
The party needs to reach the 60 percent threshold in 2020 to win the White House, the study found.
And that would require a majority of House members to back Trump in 2020 and the GOP to pass legislation that makes it easier to remove people from the country illegally.
“In order to get 60 members to support the GOP platform, the party needs a significant number of members who are very much on board,” said PPRI senior fellow and director of research, David Wessel.
“So it’s going to be critical to make it clear that they are very supportive of the principles of the platform.”
Some of the biggest successes that Republicans have seen in the years leading up to 2020 are in areas like health care, education and infrastructure.
But the report said the party would need to reach those same voters in other areas, including jobs and the economy.
“What we’re seeing in 2018 is a Republican Party that is not only unifying behind a strong conservative agenda, but that’s also articulating that agenda in a way that appeals to voters,” said Wessel, who co-authored the report.
“That’s a challenge for the party.
If it can do that, it can win again.”