But take it from some of those who have been there. The problems outlined in the frank report will not be solved by tweaks to the Republican message or by limiting the number of candidate debates in 2016 or without a potentially bruising internal fight that will pit GOP constituencies and leaders against one another in a debate over ideas and issues.
Democrats have seen this movie. A quarter-century ago, the Democrats had lost five of six presidential elections, two by landslide margins in the popular vote. Two victories by Richard Nixon, two by Ronald Reagan and then the election of George H.W. Bush finally convinced the Democrats they had to change.
Some of the parallels between Democrats then and Republicans now are striking. One is demographic.
The Democrats in the late 1980s were too dependent on minority votes and had lost support among the white middle class. Republicans today face the mirror opposite. They are too dependent on a shrinking white vote and lack adequate support among minorities.
Republicans are rightly focused on their deficit among Hispanic voters, which is one reason some elected officials are shifting on immigration. But embracing a path to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform may not be enough to attract significantly more Latino support.
The Affordable Care Act is highly popular among Hispanic voters; many Republicans are still trying to repeal it or cripple it. Beyond that, in some states, there have been Republican-led efforts that would make it more difficult for Latinos and African Americans to vote. That is not a winning long-term strategy for a party that says it needs to be more welcoming and inclusive.
The demographic challenge goes beyond minorities. In the 1980s, Reagan attracted young voters to the Republican Party. Now President Obama has turned young voters into Democrats. In the ’80s, Democrats struggled to get the votes of male voters. Today Republicans face a bigger and potentially more consequential deficit with women.
A second parallel is geographic. Republicans in the 1980s talked of having a lock on the electoral college — consistent success in enough states to give them a seemingly impregnable base from which to build to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. That, of course, was in the days when California and New Jersey were swing states in presidential races — now an artifact of history. Republicans haven’t won either state since 1988.
Today, Democrats can’t claim a lock on the electoral college, but they have an electoral base that puts them far closer to a majority that the GOP.