If you are to blame, you have control over change and improvement. If someone else is to blame, you don't.
The Republicans' first reaction to last night's loss is probably best captured by Bill O'Reilly in this clip:
In this narrative, the Republicans are not to blame. This is not just consoling but it absolves Republicans of any need for self-reflection and change. This reaction doesn't bode well for them.
Romney lost by only 2 points in the popular vote. In a country where so many people have decided by April, two percent is not as close as it sounds but it is not an impossible lead to overcome. There are things that the Republicans could have done to close that gap, and those are things for which they should take responsibility.
With the economy in bad shape during the Republican primaries, it was almost as if Republicans felt that they should go for broke on their social agenda. Apparently feeling as though there was no way they could lose, they catered to every odd belief of the far-right. Republicans became extremists.
No country has more of its population in prison and yet GOP debate audiences cheered stiffer sentencing and death penalties.
Tax rates as a percentage of GDP has averaged 18.5% during the last half century until the last few years when it dropped to below 15%. Even so, Republicans refuse to consider raising taxes a single dime.
Unemployment is barely below 8% and yet Republicans talk about austerity measures, cutting government spending by $1 trillion. (The amount by which the budget would have to be cut to balance the budget without raising taxes.) Excluding "mandatory" entitlement spending, there is only $700 billion in defense and $600 billion in non-defense (a category that includes the Supreme Court and FBI, Homeland Security and Immigration and Naturalization, EPA and NHS, etc, etc.). To cut one trillion out of this total of $1.3 trillion would devastate the government. And, of course, it would mean a massive contraction of the $15 trillion US economy, triggering a recession that would echo Spain's (where austerity economics has been enacted and unemployment is about 25%).
Even with a growing number of women voting, the GOP still refuses to fund contraceptives or support any meaningful maternity leave or legislation that would move towards equalizing pay for women.
With such extremists positions, it is a testament to their appeal that Republicans came within 2 percent of the presidency in spite of all this.
For now, the GOP shows a disconnect from demographic and policy realities as real as Dick Morris's disconnect from polling realities. (With no polls to support the notion of a Romney victory (Romney never lead in even a majority of the polls in any given time period, at best drawing close), Morris asserted his conviction that Romney would win.) Republican pundits showed no real appreciation for reality, relying instead on gut feelings and nostalgia. Until they abandon conviction for a commitment to responding to actual facts, it is hard to see how they could ever take responsibility for their loss. And until they're responsible for losing, they won't have to take responsibility for winning.