The country has always been and will continue to be a fiscally conservative, socially liberal base. It might not look like it all the time, but that is where the center of the population really is. The trick is to figure out how far you can push the voter away from either side. The Democrats need to justify to their side the spending that is continually beyond our means, while the Republicans have to defend extreme and unheard-of social restrictions. Once you push that line too far for either topic, no matter what party that voter is affiliated with, they will not cast their vote your way.
This time around the Republicans had the momentum in terms of the economy. We are still slowly recovering from the terrible collapse in 2008 and it truly has not been as fast as many would like, although most economists agree there are very limited ways to blame the limited recovery on Obama. Yet, instead of sticking to the economy in the last two years, they pressed some of the most restrictive and denigrating social legislation all over the country, thinking the 2010 wave gave them a social mandate to rewrite the country according to their social-religious code.
That was a serious mistake and they paid the price this time around.
Will we see a more moderate Republican party in the coming months and years? Likely some will tone it down. I doubt the anti-abortion voting block will shift too much, but the anti-gay marriage group will likely admit the writing on the wall: all four ballot measures going towards equality; the first time that has ever happened. If they can pull the plug on that social issue, they might just pull back some of the people who were turned off by their social agenda, but I think we’ll just have to wait until 2014. These things happen in waves and a blue wave might be hovering over the political horizon.