Will Republicans learn anything from this?
Probably not. Republicans are the prisoners of their base. During the commentary on the election last night David Brooks was lamenting that the Republican nominee wasn't Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels. Neither chose to run because they knew they had no chance of getting the nomination. Had either run they would have been assaulted by negative advertising because tea party idealogues demand purity. So at the time Wall Street financiers are one of the most hated groups in America the Republican Party chose a Wall Street financier. But the fact is that you cannot win office if you cannot get a nomination and Republican candidates cannot get nominated unless they tow the most extreme line.
Social conservatives predicted that Obama's support of marriage equality would cost him the election. That has was wrong. It likely cost him very few votes, since voters who object were usually in the Romney column already. But did it actually help Obama? Mr. Hope and Change had difficulty delivering on his promises due to Republican obstructionism. Many of the young voters in the Democratic coalition were disappointed by this. But the youth vote was nearly as strong in this election cycle as in 2008. Obama's evolution on the issue of marriage equality may be partly responsible for that. This lesson will not be forgotten by Democrats. The Republicans probably won't get their mesaage.