Election results and exit polls indicate the GOP is more old than grand and overwhelmingly white and rural in a country rapidly becoming racially mixed, suburban and dominated by post-baby boomers born after the Vietnam conflict and the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s, Politico reported Thursday.
"I don't think we've done a good job in the last two cycles of defining what Republicans are," said North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.
Republican governors, former governors and members of Congress told the Washington publication the party must return to its small-government roots while taking on a mantle of reform.
Perhaps the most visible evidence of turning away from their roots was the Republicans' support of the $700 billion package to bail out the U.S. financial markets, party leaders said.
"It was a watershed moment," said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-presidential contender, an opponent of the $700 billion rescue package. "It went against every principle Republicans held."
While some party members are waiting to battle the administration of President-elect Barack Obama, others said they'd like to see the party work more at the state level to find itself.
"I hope there is a strong focus on recruiting candidates for governor as a top priority for 2010," said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.