The party has incorrectly assumed that their path to the presidency is to become more like the Democrats. I don't think independents saw a significant difference between the two candidates. Had they chosen a candidate that has actually been consistent in his views, and one that could have explained better that WE HAVE NO MONEY, the outcome may have been different.
Big Bird?? Come on. That was an opportunity to really talk about what the role of government should be. Instead we got a promise that the budget would be balanced with no specifics and not significant cuts. No one believed that.