Pollster Frank Luntz has some excellent suggestions for the GOP if they wish to return to power:
The future must be better than the past. The 1994 Contract With America wasn’t a political gimmick. It was a clearly articulated agenda that addressed the day-to-day problems and concerns of average Americans. It was tough on spending, tough on taxes, tough on welfare, tough on crime–tough on all the things Americans wanted less of so that they could have more of what they really wanted: freedom and security. Several dozen members begged their leadership to offer a new Republican contract in 2006 because they sensed, correctly, that the party had lost its focus on the future and was interested only in defending the present. The response? Silence. The next leadership team needs to remember that no vision means no votes.
The mood of this country has changed since 2004, and because of it, some have already written off Republican chances for recapturing the House and Senate in 2008. The question Americans will be asking is whether Republicans learned anything from this election. The answers will determine the future of the GOP: that of a phoenix or a pariah.
The lack of an updated Contract, and the silence over Rumsfeld until immediately after losing suggests a GOP that has essentially been playing prevent defense, since about the time that Social Security reform was tabled. As any NFL coach will tell you, in a tight game, that’s usually a recipe for defeat.