Chief of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins is out blaming the moderates for GOP losses in 2008. What's needed, he says, is a party more committed to pure Republican principles -- fiscally and socially.
This, to put it mildly, is tough to swallow in the face of the evidence. The fact is that there are several seats in deep red territory that are now Democratic directly resulting from Republican intolerance of moderate politicians. The Maryland first, gerrymandered specifically to elect a Republican, will be sending a Democrat to Congress after a right-wing challenger knocked off a moderate incumbent who would have assuredly cruised to re-election. The Michigan 7th saw the same thing -- a right-winger who defeated a moderate incumbent in 2006 got defeated in 2008. Bill Sali, the furthest right-wing candidate in a multi-member primary in 2006, lost his Idaho(!) seat this year to a Democrat. The blood red 2nd Ohio district is competitive every year because Jean Schmidt is their representative. And so on.
Put more broadly, there is very little proof that "pure" conservative principles enjoy broad popularity in the United States (gay-bashing, alas, is a major exception). Most Americans voted for Barack Obama even though they (wrongly) believed he was raise their taxes. There isn't much proof that Americans really oppose spending on social welfare programs. Even on social issues, this was a pretty good year for liberals (outside of gay rights), winning battles on abortion, marijuana, and assisted suicide.
The fact is that, at the moment, conservative governance is not all that popular. They can talk all they want about how conservatives "abandoned conservative principles", but if they respond to this election by lurching even further to the right, they're going to spend a long time out in the cold.