Bill Maher explains why Romney lost the election:
Mitt Romney lost because of the Republican brand and Republican policies. There are other reasons, of course, like Mitt being unlovable to anyone not named Ann Romney, but nothing trumps the idea that 2/3rds of America thinks the other 1/3 is a frightening conglomerate of Bible-thumpers, xenophobes, and vaginophobes. (Not a word, but should be.)
Take Mitt's pivot from being "severely conservative" to being "the white Barack Obama." Sure, everyone tacks to the middle after the primaries, but Mitt's performance was different: it was a full-scale repudiation of just about every idea that conservatives hold dear. The positions were changed. The rhetoric was completely different. He was basically Barack Obama, Caucasian Edition.
Now I know what you're saying: this is what Mitt Romney always does. Being a shape-shifting phony isn't an act; that's who he is! And this is true.
But it isn't who Michele Bachmann is. When it comes to nutty right-wing beliefs that are completely false, she's a true believer. And yet what was Michele Bachmann saying during the waning days of her too-close-for-comfort campaign? She was putting out an ad distancing herself from her own Party -- even her conservative district:
"Michele Bachmann is an independent voice working for us, saying no to big spending by both political parties but bringing them together..."
Then Michele pops on the screen and says, "That’s why I've been an independent voice working for you..."
Wow. ...I'm just saying. When even Michele Bachmann can't run as a proud Republican, your brand identification has reached "pink slime" territory.
Maher hits the nail on the head here - the Republicans are going to continue to have a hard time electorally because their party has now divvied off into so many extreme factions, there's no coherence whatsoever. Romney was always going to have a hard time getting elected given the ideological gymnastics he had to play just to get through the primaries. He had to shore up the crazy Right and disown 99% of his record to become the Republican nominee, then pretend that it never happened in the general election in order to pick up votes from the center. The Democrats simply sat back and ran Romney's own words against him making their job relatively straightforward (bar Obama's atrocious first debate performance).
Obama has successfully re-branded the Democratic Party to encompass right wing foreign policy with a center left economic platform, giving it electoral coherence that doesn't require too much shape shifting when running for office. Agree or disagree with what the Democratic Party now stands for (and in regards to foreign policy, I certainly don't), it's definitely working.