In the aftermath of another election, Republicans are once again looking at the membership of the Grand Old Party with the goal of building a bigger political tent. The race to win the White House has already begun and Republicans find themselves trying to build a party that can be competative in 2016.
Republican strategists hope that a more diverse slate of candidates will help appeal to a growing minority population that has given Democrats a decided advantage in the last two presidential contests.
It's unclear, however, whether changing the faces of the GOP's messengers will be enough to take back the White House in 2016. As critics point out, Republicans have alienated some minority voters by pushing for voter identification laws that disproportionately affect nonwhites, while resisting comprehensive changes in the immigration and criminal justice systems.
"They're going to have to make a decision about whether they're going to build a meaningful multiracial coalition by respecting and defending the rights of all people in this country," said Benjamin Jealous, a former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, "or whether they're going to continue to play this dog-whistle politics that have besmirched the Republican Party since the days of Barry Goldwater."
The Republican Party has struggled with attracting support from minorities since Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee, opposed it. But Jealous and others suggest there are signs of hope in a crowded and diverse 2016 Republican class.
While the 2014 election results favored Republicans nationally, the voter turnout was the lowest in decades. Winning the White House in 2016 may be the immediate prize for the Republicans, but a long-term strategy for building a more diverse political party should be ultimate goal.