The GOP and the Hat Trick of Doom

After Mitt Romney’s loss, the GOP must reflect upon their mistakes if they are to have a future.

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[Read the U.S. News Debate: Does Barack Obama Have a Mandate?]

Demographics as destiny. Why were Republicans so blindsided by Romney's loss, even in the face of overwhelming polling data that showed that Obama was leading in most swing states? Conservatives assumed that the electorate would look more like 2004, when it was 77 percent white, than 2008, when it was 74 percent white. They never saw 2012's 72 percent coming.

Did I mention that Obama won Hispanics by 44 points this year after winning them by 36 in 2008? Republicans need to get right with that population and fast, and concepts like "self-deportation" don't help. "Sometimes the obvious does not become apparent until we have an election like this," Whit Ayres, a leading Republican pollster, said Wednesday. "But now the obvious is readily apparent to anyone, particularly any Republicans who don't have their heads in the sand … We have got to—through differences in policy, differences in tone, and differences in candidates—reach out in a way that we've never reached out before or we will not be successful as a national party."

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Is the party's base ready to adjust its tone and substance on immigration? Pondering the country's changed demographics Tuesday, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly said, "It's not a traditional America anymore." For four years, conservatives uncomfortable with the changes in their country could imagine the Obama presidency was an illegitimate fluke that, once brushed aside, would reveal "traditional America" once again. The country, Tea Partyers liked to think, could be taken back. But Tuesday proved that this wasn't about Obama but about America after all. "This is a new America," Dick Morris, an O'Reilly Fox-mate, said Wednesday. "This isn't your father's America."

How will querulous conservatives will react to that news? My guess is not well.

  • Read Peter Roff: GOP Must Focus on Mobilizing Voters
  • Read Susan Milligan: Mitt Romney Was Blind to Real America
  • Read the U.S. News Debate: Should the United States Get Rid of the Electoral College?