We are not outnumbered.
There are at least three options in how conservatives respond to the election results:
First, conservatives can take the Tucker Carlson, David Frum, and Bill Kristol approach by nominating even more moderate Republicans and shamelessly pandering to disparate constituent groups, hoping to cobble together a larger coalition than liberals.
...and toward what end? Abandoning core principles can only undermine conservatives' credibility, and liberals will just choose to demonize right-leaning candidates on other issues. Even if the cave and pander strategy is successful, then what is the difference between the parties? What is achieved?
A variation on this approach is to give up entirely. There was no shortage of conservatives willing to do that late Tuesday.
Second, conservatives can focus on how to approach the electorate who, according to exit polls, really believed that Romney was going to ban the sale of birth control pills and condoms, who favored expanding ObamaCare, and who believed that Bush is still responsible for the economic mess.
A more viable variation on this is, as Sarah Palin pointed out, to realize that media bias is so severe that conservatives can't communicate with voters. By implication, to succeed in future elections, conservatives need to find a way to bypass the liberal "lamestream" media and reach low-information voters who get their news from Comedy Central and MSNBC. Brent Bozell at Media Research Center has spent 25 years trying to combat liberal media bias. Glenn Beck is leading in this direction in creating a new media network. Being a trendsetter and controlling the new "cool" is a daunting task.
Third, conservatives can focus on turning out voters more likely to vote for conservatives. The pre-election polls were correct. Therefore, shouldn't conservatives also trust numerous polls showing that a slight majority of Americans are pro-life (CNN, Gallup), that a large majority of Americans oppose ObamaCare (NYT/CBS, WaPo), that a large majority of Americans (including many Hispanics) oppose amnesty (CNN), and a plurality of Americans consider themselves conservative? These polls suggest that conservatives are not outnumbered.
Newt Gingrich was successful in nationalizing house races in 1994 because he took a list of conservative issues that polled well and emphasized them in the Contract with America. That was simple and worked well. Assuming that conservatives are not willing to give up or surrender their beliefs, which seems more likely to yield success: converting liberal "drones," or convincing non-voting conservatives to vote?
Perhaps the question is debatable, but why don't they vote?
The following are only anecdotal evidence, but there is every reason to believe that these examples apply more broadly.
As a contractor working in Afghanistan, everybody in my office has a vested personal interest in avoiding defense cuts. Yet of the five people in my office, I am the only person who voted. Why?
A New York native, now living in Florida, voted in every election since he was 18. He procrastinated sending in his absentee ballot request, and his wife is furious with him. He was definitely a Romney vote.
A software engineer in his mid-30s from Massachusetts "doesn't vote in national elections" because his "vote doesn't count in Massachusetts." He had no answer to explain why he didn't vote in the critical Senate race. He thinks Elizabeth Warren is a disaster. The only national election he voted in was when his wife forced him to go vote. He definitely favored Romney.
A Central American immigrant living in New York, in his 50s, didn't vote. After fumbling for a reason, he finally settled on "I didn't like the choices." Oddly, while watching the returns, he said, "I'm scared Romney is going to lose."
A government civilian in his 30s from Pennsylvania, several days before the election, said, "Obama is the lesser of two evils." After I pointed out that Romney was a prerequisite to repeal ObamaCare, the man remarked, "Yeah, you're right, we need to do that." Even if malleable, this Pennsylvanian offers many conservative opinions, but he doesn't vote because "you can't change anything anyway; they are all crooked."
The last comment raises the question: how many conservatives were disillusioned with Bush's policies, McCain's push for amnesty, McCain's nomination, Obama's election, and finally the failure of Tea Party representatives to force the Republican establishment to play hardball with Obama and defund ObamaCare?
Maybe the real shift was in 2006, or even as early as when President Bush Sr. reneged on his "no new taxes" pledge. Did conservative voters abandon politics entirely because of feckless Republican leadership and the tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum approach of establishment Washington? These voters might be "going Galt" in politics. Those who are still voting don't trust the Republican party.
If citizens either fail to grasp the seriousness of the situation or don't believe that voting has an impact, obviously those citizens won't make the effort to vote. Still, surely, reaching these potential votes is far easier than reaching liberal drones.
Conservatives are not outnumbered, although America might be close to the tipping point. The liberal societal sponge vision did not win on the philosophical battlefield, even while the liberals won the election.