In the wake of a defeat that somehow came as a true surprise to many Republicans, the Republican National Committee under the leadership of Reince Priebus commissioned what came to be known as the GOP's autopsy of its 2012 campaign, the fifth time in the previous six presidential contests in which it had lost the popular vote.
Officially titled "The Growth and Opportunity Project," the report concluded that "public perception of the party is at record lows," and it warned that with looming and irreversible demographic changes already underway, serious changes in messaging and voter outreach would be required if the party hoped to compete at the national level in 2016 and beyond.
So with fewer than 90 days until Election Day 2016, let's take a look at both the specific recommendations that were laid out in the report, and then look at the success or lack of success it has enjoyed, as reflected in current polling:
The problem, of course, is that none of this is in the least surprising. If you were to design a presidential candidate who embodies the exact opposite of what Priebus and other Republican strategists had recommended, that person would stand before us as Donald J. Trump. It's also important to note that Trump didn't become the GOP's nominee despite the animosity that he has expressed to women and minorities and to the changing national culture that millenials think of as perfectly natural. That animosity has been his primary appeal to GOP primary voters, and his primary obstacle in appealing beyond that base.
So while I doubt that it will be of any comfort to Priebus on the morning of Nov. 9, the Priebus of early 2013 got it exactly right. He just didn't have a party in the mood to execute it.