First, the GOP looks to be doing better-than-expected this election. Currently, the GOP has a good chance of hanging on to as many as 46 seats in the Senate. This would put the GOP in a similar situation as the Dems in 2004; still able to block many things.
Second, it appears that conservatives have done very well on ballot amendments, including bans on gay marriage in AZ and CA.
These developments suggest that the electorate is still socially conservative, and that pro-life and pro-family issues are still winning issues for the GOP.
However, the GOP lost the presidential election, and this is for three reasons: 1. the economy, 2. boarder security, and 3. foreign policy.
The economy is what made the difference in OH, and it hurt in other locations. I think these losses are specific to the choice of McCain. Huckabee, Duncan, Brownback, Thompson, and many others would have not been hurt as much by the economy, but McCain was.
The GOP did horribily with hispanics, as compared to the presidential election in 2004. The cost of that was FL, NM, and harm in some other states. McCain could not connect with Hispanics, mainly, because he failed to make a bigger issue out of abortion and marriage. He also did not make the same direct appeals to them, or push as hard for them as did Bush in 2004.
The war in Iraq took PA out-of-play. It hurt in OH, and it really hurt in Virginia and North Caronlina. Virginia went Democratic for Governor is 2005, for Senate in 2006, and for senate and president in 2008. That is after going solidly for Bush in 2004. Even in 2004, however, the GOP had started to lose support in VA due to Iraq. Many social of the most fiscally or socially conservative Virginians did not support Iraq in 2004, but voted for Bush for fiscal or social issues. Since McCain was viewed as socially more liberal than Bush, and since the GOP (as a whole) was not viewed as being as socially conservative in 2008 as it was in 2004, that gave less of a reason for them to vote GOP, and they defected. The good news for the GOP, is the Iraq issue appears it will be over or different within the next year or two.
Looking forward, if the GOP wants to win back losses, the key to success is:1- Advocate an ecomomic approach that is based on actual specific plans and doesn't erratically change every week. One that is consistant with small government, effecient government, low taxes, and low debt. This includes:advocate for a plan to pay off the debt (in detail, including where to cut spending)*advocate for specific plans to reduce energy regulation (in terms of building new facilities)advocate for specific plans to improve government effecientcy (and nothing shallow like across-the-board freezes). This would include things like better use of information technology, improving effecientcy of energy use, raising government salaries to ensure that you are compeditive in the work place, reforming the GS system, etc.advocating for specific plans to reduce healthcare regulation, while also helping to reduce deceptive types of healthcare plans that give the impression to people that they have insurance, when they do not.**opposing universal healthcare plans like the one Mitt Romney implementated in MA, and insist that the government not pay for abortions.
2- Advocate for traditional values such asreducing abortions with specific proposals such as:***outlawing abortions after viability*parental conscent**require ID proof of age**requiring ultrasounds before abortionsupport marriage*marriage amendment***filibuster judges who do not support marriage
3- Move from war abroad to homeland securityfight for enhansed security at the boarder*support a worker-vista programhold unions, and employers responsible if they do not report illegalssupport a boarder fenseincrease security for international travel and at boarder check points*increase coast guard patrolls and security by 100%, and re-equipt the coast guard with newest technologies