The question now is whether the Republican Party can take its generally conservative message and make it more broadly appealing, including to younger people, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, or whether the party needs to experience a true political blood bath before even the most conservative elements agree that a new message and new style are called for.

Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party was the governing party going into the 1993 elections, holding 156 seats in Parliament. The party suffered a humiliating defeat in that election, winning just two seats. It took a revamped Conservative Party 13 years to form another government, but the 1993 blood-letting left no doubt that the party had to change.

As the Republican National Committee’s March 2013 report on the state of the party demonstrated, most veteran national GOP strategists seem to understand where the party is headed and how it needs to change.

But it’s far from clear that the primary voters and grass-roots activists understand that, and successful 2014 midterm elections — which are certainly possible given the differences in presidential and off-year turnout and given the Obama administration’s current problems — could help too many Republicans forget the important lessons of 2012.