College Republicans optimistic for new session despite Romney’s presidential loss

Jordan Rudner

In newspapers and on TV screens, Republican Party leaders are analyzing what went wrong with their most recent presidential bid, but members of UT’s College Republicans chapter are focusing on the future rather than the past.

While members offered different theories to explain the Romney loss, communications director Danny Zeng attributed the Obama victory, which he said was larger than he expected, to a failure by the Republican Party to shape its public image.

“I don’t think we did very well in defining our narrative, and we let the Obama campaign define who we are as Republicans,” Zeng said.

Zeng also said Republicans have been unfairly portrayed as a regressive party.

“We’re painted as this anti-progress party, but when you look at our organization, we have one of the most diverse officer boards of any party organization,” Zeng said.

According to data released by the New York Times, President Obama carried 93 percent of the black vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 73 percent of the Asian vote.

Chief financial officer Ben Mendelson said the loss was primarily because of a low Republican voter turnout.

“The party is a little bit behind the times in how it communicates with people on an individual level,” Mendelson said.

Republican pollster Michael Baselice, a guest speaker at College Republicans’ meeting Thursday, offered a similar perspective on Romney’s loss.

“We got schooled in 2008 by Obama in terms of social marketing effort, youth and getting out the vote,” Baselice said. “That’s what hurt us again.”

Yet even with the presidential loss, Zeng said there is reason to be optimistic.

“We’re focusing on connecting our people with internships. Republicans control the state Senate and the House, so there are lots of opportunities and a lot of individuals our members are really passionate about,” Zeng said.

Zeng said the club’s focus now is the new legislative session, which begins in January. Additionally, the club will continue to host its weekly speakers. It has already heard from speakers like Texas Comptroller Susan Combs and state Rep. Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) this year.  

Environmental science freshman Mitchell Riegler said he thinks the club has already moved on to focus on current events.

“Politics is fast-paced,” Riegler said. “We have to move on past the election. We shouldn’t be too glum.”

Printed on Friday, November 16, 2012 as: College Republicans look to future