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The reasons for Mr. Romney’s defeat run deeper than that, however.

Mr. Rothenberg points out that “white voters constituted only 72 percent of the electorate this year, compared with 74 percent in 2008, a trend that has been apparent for years and will continue. Hispanics, on the other hand, inched up from 9 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 10 percent this year, and younger voters, age 18 to 29, continued their unusually high rate of participation, constituting 19 percent of the electorate this time, compared to 18 percent four years ago.”

“For Republicans, the picture should be pretty clear. The Democratic coalition is growing while the GOP base is shrinking. Just as important, key Democratic constituencies seem less vulnerable to defecting than do GOP-leaning groups.”

Even in key red states that Mr. Romney carried comfortably, there were numerous examples of ticket-splitting favoring the Democrats in pivotal Senate contests.

In North Dakota, for example, Mr. Romney carried the state with a 21-point margin, but its voters sent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp to the Senate.

Mr. Romney easily carried strongly Republican Indiana and Missouri, but voters elected Democrats in senatorial races that were at the top of the GOP’s “vulnerable target” list.

It should be clear by now that Republicans must find new ways to reach out and appeal to a much larger base of voters. No serious Republican candidate can afford to lose 70 percent-plus of the Hispanic vote — especially in battlegrounds such as Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio — and expect to win the presidency.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush already is mounting a major outreach program to make inroads among Hispanic voters, who gave George W. Bush 43 percent of their vote in 2004.

Republican leaders also have to look at their voter turnout operation, which was woefully inadequate. On the GOP’s list of “things we must do” in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections and 2016 presidential contest, this one has to be at the top.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.