For the record, I believe Romney will win next Tuesday; and he will do so in a fairly convincing fashion. Put on the spot, I would say he collects 285 electoral votes to President Obama’s 253. That said, there is also a possibility that a slow building turnout wave quietly overwhelms President Obama, allowing Romney to win an unthinkable 337 electoral votes. I would not bet my house on it (though you can have my underwater mortgage if you wish), but the possibility certainly exists.
Given my prediction, you can treat what follows as a preemptive strike against a hypothetical scenario that won’t happen.
In the event of a hypothetical Romney loss, the reaction from the Republican Establishment would be swift. The party elders would immediately direct their ire at conservatives, who pushed the Party to embrace policies, solutions and rhetoric that the Establishment would contend alienated a majority of the electorate.
The wise old men would point to the contentious primary process. They’d claim it forced Romney "too far to the right," making him unable to pivot during the general election and thus unelectable. And lest there be any doubt, they’d place the blame squarely on conservatives and the tea party for making the primary process a “race to the right" instead of a concerted effort to oust an incompetent president.
Every single claim made by the Republican Party Establishment would be demonstrably false, and conservatives would rebut each with vigor. The problem is that the media – whose disdain for Republicans is only trumped by their disdain for true conservatives – would gladly latch onto the narrative that Romney lost because he was severely conservative. The media would then create an echo chamber, encouraging Republicans to moderate their “extreme” positions. To stroke the GOP's crippled ego, the media would applaud their newly discovered love of bipartisanship and compare them to Ronald Reagan.
What would this hypothetically inevitable moderation look like? Well, we can look to recent history (i.e., pre-Tea Party) for some indications.