Donald Lambro

In his "Monday Fix" political column, Cillizza says that, despite news media reports of the GOP's demise, "things aren't that bad for Republicans."

As for the GOP's presumed electoral obstacles, he says "the party is not that far, electorally speaking, from creating a credible path back to 270 electoral votes."

Put the key Midwestern states of Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin into the GOP column, and possibly add Pennsylvania, and the party's future looks much more promising.

"No, this was not a blowout election for Democrats, but the hardening of the party coalitions and the changing face of the country -- and the electorate -- pose major problems for the Republican Party," Rothenberg says in an analysis that sees a very "mixed message" coming out of the 2012 contests.

Some are calling the results "a status quo election," and that's what it has turned out to be. Congress remains as divided as it was before, give or take a few seats. Obama stays in the White House, but facing the same weakening economic and worsening fiscal problems he said he would fix four years ago but didn't.

The Republican National Committee is now engaged in a nationwide poll-and-focus-group examination into why the electorate voted the way it did. But the answer to that question seems self-evident. Obama received more votes than his Mitt Romney because of a clearly superior voter turnout ground game in the electoral battleground states.

But the reason's for Romney defeat run deeper than that. Rothenberg points out that "white voters constituted only 72 percent of the electorate this year, compared with 74 percent in 2008, a trend that has been apparent for years and will continue. Hispanics, on the other hand, inched up from 9 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 10 percent this year, and younger voters, age 18-29, continued their unusually high rate of participation, constituting 19 percent of the electorate this time, compared to 18 percent four years ago."

"For Republicans, the picture should be pretty clear. The Democratic coalition is growing while the GOP base is shrinking.Just as important, key Democratic constituencies seem less vulnerable to defecting than do GOP-leaning groups."

Even in key red states that Romney carried comfortably, there were numerous examples of ticket-splitting favoring the Democrats in pivotal Senate contests.

In North Dakota, for instance, Romney carried the state with a 21-point margin, but its voters sent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp to the Senate.

Romney easily carried strongly Republican Indiana and Missouri, but voters elected Democrats in senatorial races that were at the top of the GOP's "vulnerable target" list.

It's should be clear by now that Republicans must find new ways to reach out and appeal to a much larger base of voters. No serious Republican candidate can afford to lose 70 percent-plus of the Hispanic vote -- especially in battlegrounds like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio -- and expect to win the presidency.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is already mounting a major outreach program to make inroads among Hispanic voters who gave George W. Bush 43 percent of their vote in 2004.

But Republican leaders also have to look at their voter turnout operation which was woefully inadequate. On the GOP's list of "things we must do" in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections and 2016 presidential contest, that one has to be at the top.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.