One of the complaints most of us make about Republican candidates is, “They just don’t get it!” on topics such as the minimum wage, illegal immigration, energy, gun rights, and “global warming.”
As Dr. Sowell points out, there is plenty of good material, accessible to a general reader, available for study. (Even if the reader limited himself to Dr. Sowell’s oeuvre, he’d get an outstanding education!)
Republican candidates are not going to succeed if they don’t believe in Constitutional and free-market principles, and if they’re not able to explain why things turn out better for the citizens when these principles are followed.
Your remark about Repub candidates believing in Constitutional and free-market principles is dead on the mark.
All of them, instead of explaining what it is and why it's good for the country and beneficial for the people of every race, gender and income level, spent time and effort to repudiate conservatism one way or another by stating that they are not "evil conservatives" but rather "kinder and gentler," "compassionate conservatives" or "care about all the people, all 100%, not just 47% (or is it 53%?)" etc. etc.
In other words, they never run on explaining and articulating the proven conservative ideas, but instead go into defensive mode by distancing themselves from Reaganism and small(er) government ideas (while at the same time claiming to be Reagan heirs and/or associating their record with his legacy)
Instead of articulating conservative solutions and any sense of vision, Romney's campaign spent $1B trying to redefine Romney from a stiff socially awkward uber-rich banker and political/ideological flip-flopper from Massachusetts (à la John F. Kerry, with an (R) after his name) and has failed to connect with Republicans, let alone "regular" people. You don't normally win on ABx ("Anybody But" ...) except by a fluke (GWB in 2000 and 2004).
Romney stated he was going to make a campaign a "referendum" on Obama presidency. Original, eh? Ya think, with un/under-employment, deficits, debt, fiscal policy and foreign policy worthy of Jimmy Carter? But "referendum" goes for both candidates, and the sitting President has distinct advantages in running a campaign. You can't beat "something" with "nothing."
People vote for the candidates they can relate to, not the party or the VP (e.g., see the Senatorial fiascoes in "safe" Republican states IN, MO, ND, and close presidential race in NC while easily taking over entire state legislature and governor's office). And Paul Ryan (whose budget and Medicare "plan" were the main cause of Republican budget and debt ceiling standoff fiasco) was a weak choice and of no help whatsoever, nationally or in WI. Yet GOP overall now has 30(60%) governors and about three quarters of legislatures nationwide, so it's not the conservative brand that's in trouble.
People like to vote for and could change their vote in favor of the "exciting" candidate they can trust - without it they either don't go to the polls or vote for the "default" candidate. Mistaking and confusing the size of crowds at the "concert" rallies for the groundswell at the polls will cost you every time, especially with more early and vote-by-mail voting in most states. Here is a chart of what real "Excitement Factor" looks like: Colorado Algorithm Predicts a Romney Triumph - FR, post #25, 2012 August 26
Instead of helping some Senate candidates, a man who just wanted to be a President (because he already had everything else he wanted) without a vision and ideas, just sucked $1B into his own campaign and was either absent, a non-factor or had some negative coattails, just like McCain in 2008.
Selling himself as a "businessman who created 100,000 jobs" was a fraud to begin with - it wasn't Mitt's own money, though he sat on the BOD of Staples as representative of Bain. In short, the supermarket chain veteran Thomas Stemberg (who invented the concept of "generic label" food and groceries) and his former competitor Leo Kahn took the supermarket model and "roll-up" concept popular in 1980s in other industries and applied it to the office supplies market, funded with the money from Kahn and several PE firms, which included Bain.
It's one thing to run Olympics or private equity / money management / consulting firm, where you have hundreds or thousands of "people" doing things for you, it's another to compete with someone real and skillful (not an "empty chair") for people's votes - empty chairs don't talk back, to borrow from Bloodsport (1988) - "Very good but brick not hit back!"
Apparently, it seems that he isn't such a good manager or a good technocrat, either, as the horror stories of internal disarray and disorganization in his campaign now come to light: Insiders Explain How Mitt Romney's Campaign Completely Fell Apart On Election Day - FR / BI, by Grace Wyler, 2012 November 12
Romney doesn't need to "apologize for his success" in making money, but it doesn't make him a "businessman" or a "job creator" and as a politician he was nothing but a failure, from his run for Senate, to his one term as a liberal Governor of MA, to failing to win a nomination against widely despised by conservatives and badly outspent John McCain despite pouring $50M of his own money. No wonder he found such a firm support from GOP-e in the next cycle - he was the most liberal and Bush-like in the bunch.
That leads to stupid mistakes like "I like to fire people" and "47%" (many people who don't pay income taxes and/or receive some form of permanent or temporary government assistance - e.g., military, temporarily out of work, retired etc. - are not freeloaders) or accusing Obama of "picking losers" (Solyndra, Ener1, A123 etc.), as if government "picking winners"> would be OK - so Obama nailed him with GM and Chrysler who are now declared "winners" because they are in business, with little debt and profitable - courtesy of taxpayers, of course.
Free advice to GOP, which they won't hear, won't see and won't take - Stop picking losers!