In the wake of their loss in the 2012 election, the RNC commissioned a report called the Growth and Opportunity Project which acted as a postmortem on that election and presented a plan to grow the party and adapt to changing political, societal, and demographic trends that, at that time, had led the GOP to lose the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections.
The report highlighted the great potential for for the GOP to appeal to minority groups if the party could become more inclusive and show that all people were welcome in and represented by the party:
...office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.
While the party, for good or ill, chose to go in the opposite direction in 2016, the document is an interesting look at what "establishment" Republicans in the Pre-Trump era saw as the reasoning for their lack of support among minorities, and the suggestions they had for reversing that trend.
You can read the whole document on documentcloud.org, or read summaries on The Atlantic, The New York Times, or NPR. Since the whole document is 100 pages long, I summarize a few of the main points and back them up with quotes from the document below:
- The party does not make minorities feel welcome or represented by the party. If people don't think the GOP cares about them as people, they will never listen to them about the issues, even if they would otherwise agree with them:
It is imperative that the RNC changes how it engages with Hispanic communities to welcome
in new members of our Party.
If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn't want them in the United States, they won't pay
attention to our next sentence. It doesn't matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy;
if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies
Because his [President George W. Bush] tone was inclusive and his effort to build a relationship
was long-term, Hispanic Americans were willing to listen to his principles and policies on education,
jobs, spending and other issues
- The GOP doesn't engage with minority communities. The party needs to make a concerted effort to engage with and build lasting relationships with these communities:
the Party can no longer function with a "flyover campaign" mentality where candidates fly in and out of communities for fundraisers but do not substantively engage with members of the communities.
The RNC must put significant effort and resources into reaching out to Hispanic media and news outlets
Similar to the approach it must take with other demographic communities, the RNC must embark on a year-round effort to engage with African American voters. The engagement must include not only persuasion based upon our Party's principles but also a presence within community organizations. ... the Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring
- The GOP needs to be inclusive. A more diverse party will make the party better able to deal with issues of importance in minority communities and will show the GOP cares about all people:
We need to build a team that is one with the Hispanic community. ... It is also a fair criticism that Republicans do not do enough to elevate Hispanic leaders within the Party infrastructure. This includes not just candidates running for office but also senior decision-makers in the RNC's infrastructure
One common theme throughout our discussion with various APA [Asian and Pacific Islander] groups is that the Republican Party needs to stop talking about outreach and begin talking about inclusion. ... There is a belief that the RNC should develop a rising star program at the state and local level for each state so that we can encourage members of minority communities to purse higher elected
- The GOP needs to crack down on racism and intolerance in the party's messaging:
The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect, and we need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles. In the modern media environment, a poorly phrased argument or out-of-context statement can spiral out of control and reflect poorly on the Party as a whole. Thus we must emphasize during candidate trainings, retreats, etc., the importance of a welcoming, inclusive message in particular when discussing issues
that relate directly to a minority group.