The party’s gravity center now rests in the House of Representatives, where many lawmakers represent solidly conservative districts. They face little incentive to compromise on issues that could anger their base of older, white voters.
Romney had to overcome lingering suspicion from conservatives during the battle for the Republican nomination, and he was unable to appeal to independent swing voters until the campaign’s closing month.
However, many in the party are likely to conclude that they will be better off nominating a more conservative candidate next time, Brookings Institution fellow John Hudak said.
“The party is going to move right,” he said. “The line is going to be, ‘See, we shouldn’t have nominated a moderate.’”