Republicans need a positive message to win back the White House in 2016

The danger – as Whit Ayres, a highly experienced Republican pollster, warns – is that a resounding Republican victory in 2014, thanks to a favourable electorate voting in Republican-leaning states, risks the party drawing the “all the wrong lessons”.

The same old tone and policies on immigration, welfare and social issues, that broadly appeals to the America of 1983 is not going to wash with the more liberal, multi-cultural and socially tolerant America that will vote in 2016.

Unfortunately, acknowledging this reality – as many moderate Republicans do in private – is not the same as acting up on it.

Whether or not the Tea Party movement endures, it has undeniably succeeded in hardening the ideological fault-lines that have divided the party since the Goldwater-Rockefeller primary fight of 1964, and made it harder and harder to seize the middle ground on which elections are won.