Last updated: February 19. 2013 4:12PM - 803 Views

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WILKES-BARRE ‚?? The day after Barack Obama‚??s victory, local political observers said if the national Republican Party doesn‚??t change its ways, Democrats may become permanent residents of the White House.

Ed Mitchell, a Wilkes-Barre-based Democratic strategist, said the Republican Party believes the nation is stuck in the 1980s.

Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College, said it‚??s more like ‚??the ‚??40s or ‚??50s.‚?Ě

Noting wide gaps in totals between the parties when looking at presidential votes cast by Hispanics and blacks in California, he said it‚??s clear the Democrats ‚??get it‚?Ě and the Republicans do not.

‚??You can‚??t have a national party in America that can‚??t get 40 percent of the vote in the largest state in the union. It was 99-1 in the African American vote and 70 percent of Hispanics (voted for President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney),‚?Ě Mitchell said.

Brauer redubbed the Republican Party moniker of ‚??The Grand Old Party‚?Ě ‚??The Grand Outdated Party.‚?Ě But he believes there are forces already at work inside working for change, and ‚??to say a party‚??s totally done is being way too dramatic.‚?Ě

GOP‚??s challenge

Brian Carso, political science professor at Misericordia University, said the GOP will embark on some ‚??soul-searching‚?Ě to find a direction that can win a national election. He said the tension between the tea party bloc and the more moderate ‚??Eastern establishment‚?Ě wing is a case in point.

‚??Romney is of the latter, but had to contort himself to appeal to the former during the primaries, and there‚??s no question that those positions were manipulated to his disadvantage during the general election,‚?Ě Carso said.

David Sosar, political science professor at King‚??s College, said he thinks younger party members will move up the ranks and have the power and personalities to be players in the 2016 election.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are all potentially strong GOP candidates, he said.

Brauer said the GOP bench for potential presidential nominees is deeper than the Democrats‚?? and could be a force in the future, but only if the Republicans branch out and woo minorities, including gays.

‚??Demographics have shifted so much toward the Democrats it would be tough for a Republican to appeal to that wide variety,‚?Ě Brauer said.

But he added: ‚??They can reinvent themselves.‚?Ě

And that means keeping the tea party at arm‚??s length.

Tea party divisiveness

Wilkes University political science professor Tom Baldino said much of the blame for the GOP failure can be placed on the back of the tea party.

‚??The tea party is a polarizing force, and its standing with the general public is not high as demonstrated by nearly all the Senate elections last night,‚?Ě Baldino said.

To win the presidency in 2016, Baldino said, the GOP needs to find a voice and a leader in the middle of the political spectrum and cut its ties to the tea party.

Baldino said Republicans could have taken control of the Senate yesterday had the party not nominated tea party candidates in states that might have gone GOP.

Mitchell pointed to one tea party member who lost on Tuesday as an example, Tom Smith, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania.

Defeated by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, Smith is someone who is so radical and whose ‚??policies are so out of touch with mainstream thought‚?Ě that he was unelectable, Mitchell said.

Casey, during his acceptance speech Tuesday night, also made it a point to bring attention to the partisan divide.

He said Congress‚?? priority when it returns must be relieving the pressures on middle-class families, speeding up the slow-moving, but improving, economy, ‚??and making sure that even as we‚??re giving them a measure of peace of mind as we go forward that we‚??re focused on bringing Democrats and Republicans together to avoid this fiscal cliff that‚??s coming.‚?Ě

Carso said the tea party is a mixed blessing for Republicans.

‚??On the one hand, it energizes a particular voting bloc within the party,‚?Ě Carso said. ‚??On the other hand, however, it forces candidates to take positions that appeal to the right that make it difficult when trying to appeal to the general electorate.‚?Ě

Sandy‚??s impact

While Romney was building momentum in the final week, according to polls, Hurricane Sandy was building steam up the East Coast. The devastating impact on New Jersey, New York, New England and eastern Pennsylvania gave Obama a chance to ‚??be presidential‚?Ě and the photo opportunities the disaster gave him paid off, Sosar said.

‚??President Obama was the focus for a day or two. When he looks presidential, he gains points,‚?Ě Sosar noted, though the overall impact on the election was unclear.

Obama‚??s challenges

Carso, who considers himself a historian, said he worries that 2013 could end up like 1914, or 1929, or 1941 -- years that did not end well, and introduced prolonged financial difficulties or war.

‚??The economy may improve in the next few years, but there are just as many indicators suggesting another recession,‚?Ě Carso said. ‚??The problem with Iran‚??s nuclear capability will move to the front burner of boiling problems almost immediately. And the Benghazi matter will not go away, and may well become a significant political scandal.‚?Ě

Carso said the election will have some long-term ramifications.

‚??By re-electing Obama, the voters validated Obama‚??s vision of government taking an increased role in supervising individual lives in an entitlement state,‚?Ě he said.

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