What Now for the GOP?

VIDEO: Nicolle Wallace discusses the GOPs losses in the 2012 election.
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The Republican Party is doing plenty of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, as it brushes itself off from a stinging loss and looks ahead to how an increasingly fractious and fragmented party can regain its footing.

Some Republicans are placing blame for Mitt Romney's loss squarely on the candidate, a millionaire Mormon with a centrist past who could never fully connect with the party's socially conservative core, or middle class independents hurting from a weak economy

Others credit Barrack Obama and the Democrats' well-oiled get-out-the vote operation and a ground game put in place four years ago that the Republicans could not surmount.

But the exit polls reveal a deeper problem within the party, a lack of understanding of the new face of the American electorate and an inability to connect with or capture the votes of a growing minority population.

Mitt Romney secured 60 percent of the white vote, a majority that when achieved by George H.W. Bush in 1988 propelled him to victory with 400 electoral votes, but which this year was not enough to guarantee Romney's success.

"The Republican Party hasn't done a great job, and should be ashamed of itself, for not going after all Americans," said Hogan Gidley, a Republican strategist who worked on Rick Santorum's primary campaign. "We can't take any one group for granted and need to look for ways to appeal to black and Latino voters."

As ABC News consultant Matt Dowd put it, " The Republican Party is… a 'Mad Men' party in a 'Modern Family' America, and it just doesn't fit anymore."

But more than just shoring up votes for 2016, the Republican loss, which included an inability to regain control of the Senate, may signal a deeper problem for the party, a looming fight over which wing of the party will wrest control of the GOP's mantle.

Already names are circulating for a 2016 GOP run at the White House. Each of them represents a wing of the party and a path forward: libertarians like Sen. Rand Paul, social conservatives like Sen. Marco Rubio, and fiscal conservatives like Gov. Chris Christie.

For the past 40 years, the GOP's success has come from a broad coalition of conservatives. Evangelical Christians who have pushed a pro-life, values-based agenda have made strange but powerful bedfellows of libertarians and fiscal conservatives who want small government and a laissez-faire approach to their lives and finances. Isolationists who do not support U.S. intervention in foreign affairs have supported and voted for the same candidates backed by neo-conservatives who believe the U.S. has the right to extend its power anywhere in the world.

That coalition, which experts say has been fraying for years, could ultimately be undone by this election. Each faction believes it represents the soul of the party, and each is jockeying to become the base on which the party's new incarnation should be built.

"This is a reminder to us that we need to rally together and solidify social, fiscal and national security conservatives," said Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist who worked on Mike Huckabee's 2008 campaign and Michele Bachmann's 2012 race.

The contemporary coalition that makes up the party began with Richard Nixon's courting conservative Southerners away from the Democratic Party and bringing the Western states, including California, into the tent. Reagan built on that foundation, cementing the Christian right as the party's surest base and inspiring a generation of young conservatives.

But since 2008, Obama has made new battlegrounds out of once decidedly Republican states, including Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado, all of which he won again last night. A Republican has not won California since Reagan in 1988.

Many observers see Obama's back-to-back victories as the end of the Reagan revolution that led to growth of the GOP for more than 20 years.

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