Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, center, announces a shuffle in the GOP leadership after House Republicans voted to make Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the new majority leader, replacing Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who was defeated in his primary earlier this month, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 19, 2014.

New Numbers, Same Old Problems for the GOP

Republicans still face a gender gap and the perception that they're the party of the rich.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, center, announces a shuffle in the GOP leadership after House Republicans voted to make Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the new majority leader, replacing Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who was defeated in his primary earlier this month, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 19, 2014.

Where's the reset button?

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The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals less than encouraging news if you are a Republican. The problems for the GOP are not new and aren’t easily fixed.

The poll points out that the GOP has an image problem that is evident to the most casual observer. When a party loses a race for the White House, it gets painted with the same brush as its nominee. The GOP is now labeled as the party of the rich, and there is no short-term solution for this. The long-term answer lies partly in who we pick as our next nominee. He or she will be the face of the party and must articulate a positive, optimistic conservative vision that attracts voters to the GOP. When that occurs, the goodwill generated from the nominee will spill over to the party.

[SEE: Cartoons about the Republican Party]

The second problem with the party, according to the poll, is that the country is in a different place than the GOP on issues. Correct again. House Speaker John Boehner and his new leadership team have an opportunity to hit the reset button. And they will. But frankly, we need someone who can promote a conservative agenda in positive terms that voters can identify with.

Finally, the poll states that the GOP has a gender gap with women and, yes, it’s true, too. The converse is also true: The Democrats have a gender gap with men. But the majority of voters in this country are female, which makes the GOP’s problem worse. This is a messaging problem that won’t go away without some pushback from elected officials. Republicans need to drive a wedge between the Democrats and female voters. The issues are there, but we need to steal a page from their play book and balkanize female voters on issues they care about; the Veterans Affairs scandal and senior health care would be a good place to start.