By now reality based members of the RNC are starting to ask "What now?"
The election is not going to go their way despite spending over a billion dollars.
What lessons will they take from this and what will they do differently in the next four years?
The first question they will need to answer is why they couldn't beat President Obama? By any of their measures, this should have been an easy task. Unemployment is high and underemployment is higher. Fuel prices are rising and far too many mortgages are still under water. And of course the 'President' is a Communist/Fascist/Muslim/Kenyan/AngryBlackMan who wants to take your money and use it to pay for abortions, welfare cell phones and teaching your children how to be gay. How could they not win with all these 'facts'?
The easiest answer is the Candidate. Willard is just not a very nice guy. Given a choice, most people will choose the guy they want to have a beer with. Big Dog was that guy, Bob Dole wasnt. W was that guy, Al Gore wasn't. And even the folks who don't want to have a beer with President Obama dont want to be told they should drink. If the primaries taught us anything its that only about 1/3rd of Republicans are going to vote FOR Mitt. The other 2/3rds are voting AGAINST President Obama.
The Campaign is the next easy target. For all of the alleged competence of Mitt as a business man, his campaign has been poorly run. The announcement of Paul Ryan as VP is a great example. It was an opportunity for the campaign to set the narrative for a week, to shift media coverage to the message they wanted and seize the high ground. Yet they waste this opportunity by announcing on a Saturday morning (after letting it leak the night before), just before the closing ceremony of the Olympics (further reminding voters of Rafalka) and on a WWII era battleship (highlighting the tickets lack of military experience and backwards foreign policy view). These are rookie mistakes that you would expect in a city counsel election, not someone running for President.
Finally, the Platform. Here I have to speculate because I dont understand Republican logic but I think they will believe their platform is too moderate. Mitts recent tack to the middle will be seen as contributing to defeat, the reason his "mittmentum" stalled. More god, more guns and more (anti) gay will be the answer. Along with that the attacks on government, unions, immigrants and women will bee seen as winning strategies so expect to see more.
So what is their answer for 2016? Are you ready for Rick Santorum? How about Tim Pawlenty? Had Santorum had enough money he could have beaten Mitt this year and Pawlenty withdrew before he had to answer any probing questions. Both are sufficiently right of Attila the Hun thought Pawlenty will have to drop his rape exception for abortions. Other than those two, I think we will see another Herman Cain type - an "outsider" from business.
Having said all this I think Republicans are going to take all the wrong 'lessons' and go the wrong direction - wrong for them but good for us. The 'problem' with Mitt Romney will be his time as Governor, not his vulture capitalism. It will not be that he didn't reveal enough of his policies but that he reveled too much. It will not be that he dismissed 47% of the electorate but that he ever attempted to get more than 50.1%.
Democrats needed Governor Dean to right our ship and put us back on the path to being a national party. I think Republicans are going to go the opposite direction and attempt to narrow their focus on an even smaller slice of the electorate. The question for Democrats is "how do we help?"