Erick Erickson with a very good analysis of the continuing war between factions of conservatism as well as establishment Republicanism:
Debasing ourselves with silly defenses of Republicans along with a willingness to put party politics ahead of principle will, yet again, see voters rejecting conservatives. Groups like the American Conservative Union, the Heritage Foundation, etc. have all made mistakes and have usually had to repent. But in making those mistakes, they have opened up both conservatives and the Republican Party to temptation and temerity that ultimately caused collapse at the polls or ceding issues in debates. Look at the Heritage Foundation and healthcare mandates. Look at the Republican politicians who expand the federal government's budget while hiding behind their ACU rating as proof that they are conservative.
The conservative movement has been sick for the past decade. The further it became absorbed within the Republican Party, the less it could shine with conservative ideas. It compromised with itself because it had become part of the Republican Party and was as much about the acquisition of political power as it was about advocating particular policy.
I am afraid supporting Mitt Romney will undo a lot of the repairs made to the conservative movement in the past few years. Already people are defending inherently not conservative ideas by calling them conservative. Already people are too willing to keep their mouth shut to do no harm to the party and, in the process, are doing harm to the intellectual capital built up within the conservative movement.
I would quibble slightly with some of Erick's assumptions; notably, the idea that there have been few "repairs" made to the conservative movement over the last few years. There is still resistance to embracing an objective reality, substituting an excessively ideological worldview that denies some basic truths.
But otherwise, Erickson is spot on with his analysis about conservatism beginning to deliberately separate itself from the GOP. Both pragmatists and ideologues are backing off for different reasons - but the reality is that only "party men" and those who want something from the GOP (or government) can be considered part of the GOP power structure.
This doesn't necessarily mean there is a possibility of a true conservative party forming. It does mean a weaker Republican party and a less conservative one.