A tidbit of history: after President Obama's win last night, Republican presidential candidates have now lost the national popular vote in five of the last six elections. The last time the GOP saw a streak like this was the FDR/Truman era.
As election results came in last night, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the disappointed chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, "[I]t's clear that with our losses in the presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party.... Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead."
To a very real degree, it's hard for Republicans to even know where to start with its structural problems. The nation is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and the GOP seems to be going out of its way to become whiter. Republicans seem to be discovering new ways to alienate women, while moving even further from the American mainstream on reproductive rights and women's health.
The GOP apparently isn't familiar with actuarial tables, either, choosing to be heavily reliant on older voters.
What's more, as of this morning, the party has no clear leader -- House Speaker John Boehner might qualify, though he's more inclined to take orders than give them -- and no real policy agenda except fighting tooth and nail to prevent millionaires from paying a little more in taxes. Even the party's generations-long advantage on national security appears to be gone.
When it comes to electoral considerations, Chris Cillizza accurately noted this morning that the Democratic "electoral vote ceiling" is now obviously higher than the GOP's, and without a successful effort to expand the Republican base, the party faces a real challenge when it comes to winning national elections.
Perhaps most importantly, the party wants to win but doesn't want to change.
President Obama will call for comprehensive immigration reform, and the GOP will still cry, "Amnesty!" Those within the party who suggest a culture-war "truce" are condemned for their heresy. Thanks in part to Grover Norquist, there aren't really any Republicans willing to suggest, "Maybe Clinton-era tax rates on millionaires wouldn't be the end of the world."
When it comes to the basic ideological directions of the near future, there isn't even anyone left in the party to push it towards the middle because centrist Republicans were deliberately driven from the GOP's ranks through a series of ugly and costly primaries.
I think some of the recent talk about an intra-party "civil war" is probably overblown -- it's homogeneous party filled with people who think exactly alike -- but if Republicans think their problems will go away in time, they're kidding themselves.