After a party loses badly in an election, there are always intramural battles about whose fault it was and what to do about it. The fight this year seems to feature Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, and other media figures on the right vs. elected leaders and the people who run campaigns. Steve Schmidt, the person who de facto ran John McCain's presidential campaign, said the leadership needs to stand up against the extreme elements in the party who are leading it down the wrong path. He clearly meant Limbaugh, Ingraham, O'Reilly, and the others. They all shot back that there is nothing wrong with their principles, they just need a better salesman. Ingraham wrote on her blog about Republican candidates: "Do they now need to pander to minorities and update their platform to make it more appealing?" She answered her own question with a clear "no." Bill O'Reilly echoed Romney's "47% comment" when he said: "People feel that they are entitled to things." His solution is to tell them that they aren't entitled to things. It is going to be a long and bitter fight and could affect the 2014 elections, especially if it results in many primary fights.
In a nutshell, is the problem that there was something wrong with the message (what the Republican Party stands for) or was there something wrong with the messenger (Romney was not believable)? Until Republicans can figure that out, they are not going to be able to start working on a solution. Needless to say, changing the messenger will meet with a lot less resistance than changing the message. For many individual Republicans who were living inside the Fox News bubble and didn't see this coming, the reelection of President Obama, coupled with Democratic gains in the Senate and House, and the legalization of gay marriage and marijuana in several states, means the end of the country as they knew it. The feeling among many of them is that this is a watershed election, unlike, say, 1992, and there is no going back. It will take a while to adjust to it.
The lame duck congress will soon come back to deal with the automatic tax increases scheduled for pumpkin time on Dec. 31, as well as cuts to some programs that will kick in then. The media seem to delight in calling it a "fiscal cliff" and imply that going over it will be the biggest event on earth since a meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. It won't be. If a deal is made in early January rather than in December, no long-term damage will have been done
The easiest path might be to just wait until early January, after taxes have already gone up, and then pass a tax cut, one of the few things Congress is capable of doing, although there will be a lot of haggling over whose rates get cut, a process that has already started. If the Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on the nature of the tax cut, the economy could go into recession. Then the blame game becomes the key to the 2014 elections. If either side can firmly put the blame on the other one, they could win big in 2014. The Democrats probably have the edge here. They won the White House and picked up seats in both the Senate and House. That sounds like the voters prefer the Democrats' policies to the Republicans' and if the Republicans stonewall any attempt to solve the problem, they are likely to get the blame.
Nevertheless, both President Obama and Speaker Boehner would prefer a deal, either in December or in January, if need be.
The stories of very long lines at the polls in many states have gotten through to Congress. A number of members are beginning to think about how to normalize the process, to make sure people are not disenfranchised. It will be a long and difficult process, but one that will probably have public support if Congress tries.
Losing a presidential election is a huge blow to the candidate since he has invested 1-2 years in the project and has nothing to show for it. Nevertheless, candidates go on. Here is a short summary of what the post-WWII losers have done after their defeat.
|Year||Loser||What came next|
|2012||Mitt Romney (R)||?|
|2008||John McCain (R)||Went back to the Senate|
|2004||John Kerry (D)||Went back to the Senate|
|2000||Al Gore (D)||Got divorced, made a movie, won a Nobel Prize|
|1996||Bob Dole (R)||Became national spokesman for Viagra|
|1992||George H.W. Bush (R)||Worked on his presidential library|
|1988||Michael Dukakis (D)||Became a professor at several universities|
|1984||Walter Mondale (D)||Lawyer in private practice; later ambassador to Japan|
|1980||Jimmy Carter (D)||Established the Carter Center to advance human rights, won Nobel Prize|
|1976||Jerry Ford (R)||Created an institute at Albion college; sat on corporate boards|
|1972||George McGovern (D)||Continued in the Senate until 1980; ran a hotel later|
|1968||Hubert Humphrey (D)||Ran for the Senate in 1970, won, and served for 8 years|
|1964||Barry Goldwater (R)||Ran for the Senate in 1968, won, and served 3 terms|
|1960||Richard Nixon (R)||Pouted for 8 years, then was elected President in 1968|
|1956||Adlai Stevenson (D)||Became Kennedy's ambassador to the United Nations|
|1952||Adlai Stevenson (D)||Ran for President again in 1956|
|1948||Thomas Dewey (R)||Continued as governor of New York for 6 years|
What Romney will do next is uncertain. He doesn't need the money and at 65 he could just retire and play with his 18 grandchildren. He could serve on corporate boards. A return to public office seems very unlikely.