As the saying goes, the first step toward recovery is to acknowledge the problem.
The problem in 2012 — as in 2008, as in the near-death experience of 2004, as in the popular vote loss of 2000, as in the loss of 1996, as in the loss of 1992 — was the GOP’s failure to offer an economic program relevant to the problems of middle-class Americans. The party’s present three front-runners would not only repeat that failure, but double down on that failure.
The Republican Party desperately needs renewal, its early presidential front-runners are characterized by their rejection of change.
Relatedly, Jonathan Bernstein argues that the GOP is broken. One reason why:
Winning parties have a tendency to overlearn the lessons of their campaigns; winning candidates become role models for the party in the future. And the Republican Party, which has produced many impressive and honorable politicians over the years, has been unlucky in its winners — especially Richard Nixon and Newt Gingrich, but also in many ways Ronald Reagan. The lessons they learned from those politicians and from the 1968, 1980 and 1994 victories have reinforced the worst instincts of party actors (even though the victories actually mainly had to do with economic and other fundamentals that had nothing to do with the lessons “learned”).