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Evangelicals, a mainstay in the conservative coalition that helped elect previous GOP candidates such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, did not come out in the numbers required to put Mr. Romney over the top in swing states this year.

The internal bloodletting likely will force the Republican National Committee to move its January meeting to elect the party chairman far away from Washington and its myriad consultants and interest-group pressures.

Some will blame RNC Chairman Reince Priebus for the electoral setback Tuesday and demand that he be replaced, possibly with a Hispanic woman, despite the party’s long hostility to so-called identity politics as practiced by Democrats.

“Injecting gender and ethnicity into choosing our party’s leadership is dangerous because, as conservatives, we must judge people not on their sex and national heritage but on their values, character, skills — in other words, their merit,” said Oregon Republican National Committee member Solomon Yue.