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Rebuilding the GOP: Can Republicans pitch a bigger tent?

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"Conservatives don't feel like conservatism lost. Conservatives feel like they nominated another establishment, moderate nominee and came up short," he says.

'Demographic realities'

That line of reasoning is self-destructive, says John Hudak, an analyst in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"People who think it was Mitt Romney's fault that Republicans lost and not the Republican brand don't have a full grip on demographic realities," Mr. Hudak says. "If they don't settle on the idea that they have a demographic problem, they will be demographically barred from controlling the White House."

While many factors undoubtedly played a part in the GOP's thrashing in the election, it's difficult to deny the party's "pathetic job of reaching out to people of color," as former Governor Huckabee told Fox News.

Consider the numbers: The president won Latinos 71 percent to 27 percent, Asians 73 percent to 26 percent, gays and lesbians 77 percent to 23 percent, and blacks 93 percent to 6 percent. Single women gave 68 percent of their vote to Mr. Obama and voters under age 30 gave him 60 percent of their vote. All are growing sectors of the electorate.

There was one area where Mr. Romney trumped Obama: He won the white vote 59 percent to 39 percent. That's the best a GOP nominee has done among whites since 1988. But that's the one sector of the electorate that is shrinking.

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