11/17/2014 04:50 pm ET Updated Nov 18, 2014

Can The Grand Old Party Learn New Tricks?


In the two decades between 1968 and 1988, Democratic candidates lost the Presidency five times out of six. This miserable run forced the Party to move closer to the electoral center on issues from welfare and crime to the role and the scope of government in postindustrial America. In 1992, Bill Clinton, calling himself a “New Democrat,” broke the spell and initiated a two-decade period in which Republican candidates for President failed to prevail five times out of six. (The Supreme Court prevented the country from definitively establishing the result of the 2000 election.) President Obama’s reëlection in 2012 devastated Republicans. They reacted, as Democrats had, by asking themselves what went wrong. They wrote earnest opinion pieces, organized soul-searching retreats, formed high-minded study groups, and launched reformist efforts such as the Growth and Opportunity Project, which published a scathing report about the dire state of the Party.

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