America suffers from self-inflicted wounds. We have always been a nation where more things have been more possible for more people than anywhere else on earth.
We have become an exceptional nation and the world's most powerful economy because people of all kinds could fulfill their potential. And yet today, we are crushing too much of the potential of too many through bad policy, bad governance and bad politics.
Women represent half the nation, constituting 53 percent of the electorate in 2012.
Of that figure, 56 percent voted for President Obama over Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. Romney held an eight-point spread among male voters, but it was the double-digit margin with women that helped re-elect the president.
In part, that was due to the unmitigated and bogus charge that, somehow or another, Republicans are on a crusade against women. It permeated then, and we’re seeing Democrats rolling out the old playbook again in key Senate battlegrounds states such as New Hampshire, North Carolina and elsewhere.
The challenge for Republicans in 2012 was compounded by the Obama 2012 field operation, which ensured its spot in presidential campaign history books by demolishing the GOP on the ground. Let’s look at three key states – Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.
In Ohio, the combined efforts of the Obama campaign and of national Democrats had 131 field offices. Governor Romney and the national Republican Party had forty. That disparity stood at 106-47 in Florida, and 61-30 in Virginia. At minimum, Democrats had double the field presence per state. They won all three.
President Obama and his party invested in reaching voters on a personal level, while we overinvested in television – a medium offering diminishing returns -- and other cookie-cutter formulas that are no longer enough to win national elections.
If only team Obama could run our country like they ran their campaign.
Our economy has taken a shellacking at the hands of their liberal policies. Entrepreneurship, innovation, and opportunity have given way to Obama’s “new normal” of long-term unemployment, underemployment, and of diminished expectations among hardworking families.
No one should be surprised that women consistently cite jobs and the economy as their top concerns. Women are paying the price for this administration’s reckless economic policies.
When it comes to economic freedom and opportunity, our Party has the right message. Women know our nation is moving in the wrong direction. They expect more than the status quo under President Obama, and they are not getting it.
Our challenge, however, is that too many women still don’t trust the Republican Party to solve our problems, either. This must change.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Republicans can no longer wait to close the gender gap. We must transform the way we run our campaigns. We must stand up for our policies, which help women both in the workplace and at home. And we must invest in people, not media consultants.
To begin, Republicans should confront, head on, the ridiculous notion that we are engaged in a “war on women.” During the 2012 election, Republicans allowed this notion to remain uncontested. I say, no more.
We need to name and to shame every Democratic candidate or group that uses this dishonest, divisive rhetoric in the service of defending terrible policies that leave women out of work, or underemployed.
The Republican Party must reach women using more relatable messengers and with fresh messaging, backed by our timeless conservative principles. We must restore traditional modes of outreach and coalition building.
Reaching one hundred percent of voters with generic messaging has gotten us nowhere. It is the quality of the conversation that matters. That means more personal engagement and less electronic mass message broadcasting. It means listening instead of “controlling the debate,” and demonstrating the tangible ways in which our conservative policies enhance the lives of every American.
This means the Republican Party must put more boots on the ground, not more “Gross Rating Points” on the air. I’m suggesting nothing less than a real dialogue with a segment of our nation that agrees with us on most issues, but too often votes the other way. Like-minded Republican and independent women are the keys to leading this dialogue.
Carly Fiorina is a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. She served as chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005. She has also served on the Defense Business Board, as the chairman of the CIA's External Advisory Board and on the Advisory Group for Transformational Diplomacy for the Department of State. Follow her on Twitter @CarlyFiorina.