"The Republicans are dead in the water right now … they're an aging white party in a country that is less white each year," syndicated columnist Mark Shields told the PBS NewsHour Friday night.
It's a healthy and necessary debate, to be sure, for a party that serves as a counterweight to America's more progressive tendencies, as embodied by the reelection of President Obama – the man who has overseen the massive $5.8 trillion increase in the national debt.
While Obama is likely to use his second term to strengthen the Democratic fortress in hopes of further weakening the Republicans, there's plenty of ground that can be won by conservatives. After all, the country remains center-right on issues from abortion to gun control, and insecurity about the national debt runs across party lines and across regional and income demographics. Moreover, the party has built a serious stable of potential leadership contenders, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
What Republicans say the party as a whole, as well as various candidates, have largely failed to do, however, is consider voters as people instead of numbers on a campaign consultant's chart.