And the left also, after Nixon’s horrific (to them) 49 state landlide, became determined that any repulican nominee going forward was to be repudiated, despised and destroyed. Only Reagan beat them, because he had the people behind him and they were horrified again in both 1980 and 1984. 1988 was a landslide too but Bush was a go-along moderate who could be duped, then detroyed in four years (and was).
And since, the pressure has been on republican nominees to never, ever run as a conservative or all hell and damnation will be brought down upon you. What the moderate nominees since Reagan haven’t realized is that, hell and damnation will be brought anyway, no matter what, so you might as well stand for something. But moderates don’t stand for anything. And conservatives have been convinced that running as conservatives leads to political oblivion, the examples of ‘80, ‘84, 00, and ‘04 notwithstanding. Yet they’re more than happy to follow the examples of ‘76, ‘92, ‘96, and ‘08.
And in the process, the Left's successes have tended to prove Nixon right, haven't they?
People forget how close we came to tempting the Soviets to attack West Germany with our weakness in the 70's. Fortunately, SecDef Harold Brown and Jimmuh himself saw the danger and started turning (some) things around .... although Jimmuh did stupidly cancel the B-1 bomber program, that Bob Dornan and Ronald Reagan had to go out and rescue from the junkheap.
But considering the way things have gone, we'd be infinitely better off today if Nixon had completed both terms and been succeeded immediately by Ronald Reagan.