They are in more than the usual disarray that afflicts parties out of the White House. Many members of their majority in the House of Representatives are out of step with the Republican leadership on issues ranging from Syria to defunding Obamacare.
They have a clutch of presidential candidates who are little known nationally and take starkly different stands on issues. Any recent uptick in polls represents more a rejection of the Obama Democrats than an embrace of their opponents.
So Republicans would do well to listen to advice, even from unlikely political quarters and from the far corners of the earth. Two articles in the past week warrant attention, even though they seem to propose opposite courses.
In one corner are William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, Democrats who held top jobs in the Clinton White House, writing in The Washington Post.
They point back to their 1989 manifesto, "The Politics of Evasion: Democrats and the Presidency." Democrats suffered, they argued, from mistaken beliefs that they could win the presidency by some combination of liberal orthodoxy and mobilizing core constituencies.
They argued that Democrats' previous victories in congressional and state elections wouldn't continue indefinitely, as conservative Southerners would start to vote Republican.
Their analysis proved prescient. Bill Clinton, campaigning as a New Democrat, captured the White House in 1992. And Republicans finally broke through and won a majority in the House in 1994.
Today, they say, Republicans stand where Democrats did in 1989. They need to be more moderate.
They should reject "hyper-individualistic libertarianism," "mean-spirited words" and (in an uncharacteristically nasty analogy) "the tea party's Wahhabi-style drive to restore pure, uncompromised conservatism."
A different recommendation comes from overseas. British parliamentarian Douglas Carswell, in a Telegraph blogpost, interprets the Sept. 8 victory of Tony Abbott and his center-right Liberal Party in Australia as a vote for full-throated conservatism.
Abbott opposes abortion and same-sex marriage; he is a skeptic on global warming; and he wants to end immigration of asylum-seekers. The left-wing Oz commentariat said that made him unelectable. Yet he won big.
Carswell's advice to British Conservatives and, by implication, American Republicans is to "stop drifting to the soggy center." Tony Abbott shows you can win.