As Carney sees it, the Republican populist must explain to middle- and working-class voters that the system is stacked in favor of big corporations and the wealthy. It’s in fact a deeply conservative position, he argues, to hold that “Obama’s big government expands the privileges of the privileged class.”…

Carney argues that the “fertile ground [for Republicans] is the middle class, the working class—the people who haven’t done that well recently.” In other words, the very groups that had good reason to feel slighted by the Romney campaign’s 47-percent rhetoric…

The Tea Party briefly revivified the conservatives in 2010, but Salam thinks that Republicans “probably would have won bigger victories” without the movement, citing the losses of fringe Senate candidates Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell.

“Between freedom and tyranny and socialism, there are a lot of things you can say about how to make these things work better,” Salam said. On the state level, for instance, he pointed to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s success in “common-sense things,” like attacking rules that make it difficult to fire ineffective teachers. “The irony is that Scott Walker, when he talked about national issues, said ‘Mitt Romney’s tax cut isn’t big enough.’ So at the national level, some of these same people say things that are wackadoo.”