The GOP’s self-examination on the 2012 election debacle rightly identifies marketing and messaging and lack of a ground game as contributors to that mess.
But the GOP’s self-exam missed a potentially fatal problem for the party: the American people simply do not trust Republicans on the budget.
Read this paragraph from The Hill carefully. Read all of it. It should tell you everything you need to know.
More voters trust the Democratic Party than the Republican Party on budgetary issues, according to the results of a new poll for The Hill — even though a strong majority actually prefer Republican fiscal policies [emphases added].
Now do see how bad things are for the Republicans?
Marketing Can’t Fix Trust
Bad marketing is fairly easy to fix. The world is full of marketing scientists, strategists, and copywriters. It’s just a matter of humility and money.
But marketing can’t fix a company that people just don’t trust. And, right now, people don’t trust the Republicans. What’s worse is that the GOP did not identify trust among its seven problems.
Are Republicans Incompetent Or Threatening?
Trust comes in two forms: Warmth and Competence. According to researchers, social animals—like people—must evaluate others on two scales with these questions:
- Do they mean me harm or good?
- Are they competent to deliver on their intent?
The Hill poll did not delve into this question, but we know this much: 55 percent of Americans believe that the GOP is lying about the Ryan budget (threat) or incapable of carrying it out (incompetent) or both.
Here Are the Numbers on Budget Preferences
The Hill designed their poll so people wouldn’t know which party proposed which budget solutions. When presented this way, here’s how people responded:
The Ryan Budget beats the Patty Murray Budget by a whopping 55-28. Even among women, Ryan’s budget wins 51-27.
But now look at which party people trust to fix the budget problem:
While 55 percent prefer the Republican budget, only 30 percent trust the GOP on budgetary issues.
The GOP Needs To Learn More About The Trust Issue
Marketing begins with research, and The Hill poll gives the Republicans an immediate challenge: find out if people think they’re insincere, incompetent, or both.
In the past, the party and politicians and pundits would simply argue with people, telling the public it’s wrong. That doesn’t work.
And better messaging won’t either. Not until the Republicans know why people don’t trust them.
How the GOP handles this trust issue will tell a lot, and quickly, about its future. If they choose to fight public opinion before understanding it, the Republican candidate for President in 2016 might not finish in the top two.