How Far Will The GOP Go To Broaden The Tent?
"Actions speak louder than words," he added. "The actions that Republican leadership takes up in their next Congress, I think, will say a great deal to Latino voters about how well they understand their priorities."
The Latino community is not the only one from which the GOP could benefit having some new recruits: According to demographer William Frey, fast-growing, traditionally Republican states like Georgia, North Carolina and Texas are at risk of becoming swing states in the future if the GOP doesn't make some inroads among African-Americans as well as Hispanics and if Democrats can continue to grow their appeal to white voters there. And Asian-Americans are a small but fast-growing part of the American population that is bound to have increased influence in the ocming years.
The party also has ground to make up among middle- and working-class voters.
The GOP's legislative priorities in the next Congress remain to be seen, but so far there is little evidence that the leadership itself will look much different from in years past: Among those tapped to chair the 21 House committees, which set legislative agenda and priorities in respective issue areas, there is one woman and one man of Lebanese descent.
J.C. Watts, a former congressman and prominent black Republican, questions the RNC's apparent continued support of party chairman Reince Priebus, who is running for a second term, as evidence that Republicans are "continuing to grade our own test."
"We got our heads handed to us. We were wrong on every single front," Watts said, of the 2012 election. "I'm no expert at serving on corporate boards, but I know that if any pastor, or any head football coach, or any CEO, would have delivered the results that we delivered on November 6, that person would not be around on November 10th."
Watts has floated the idea of a bid to challenge Priebus, though he says he's "not naive enough to think the solution is to put a black face over at the RNC and think that's going to be the solution." But, he said, "I think this last election kind of sent a clarion call, that said, hello, Republicans, you're still not getting it."
Watts has argued vociferously in recent years that the GOP needs to invest time and money into African-American outreach, and was harshly critical of Priebus' efforts in that arena in the most recent election.
"It's perplexing to me how we think we're going to do better in national elections if we're not trying to establish deeper relationships with non-traditional constituents," he said. "Every single Republican ought to be concerned about what happened in national elections in 2008 and 2012. We can't hold the RNC harmless."
The path forward
To many Republicans, the path to future success - and a more diverse party -- will require the party to cultivate and promote new leaders, policies, and attitudes.
"It's new policies, new candidates, and a new tone," Ayres said. What exactly that looks like, he says, "we're in the process of working out." But he acknowledges that a part of the process will require shaking off some of the negative connotations of the past election - including "an image that says, if you don't look like us, we don't want you as part of our party."