Charisma....... Reagan was elected and acceptable because of his likeability and believability. The lesson of 2012 is that being conservative is not only not enough, it is anathema.
There must a charismatic personality with the voice and message to charm. Wonkish recital of conservative virtues will not prevail in a national election.
If such a person threatens, he is destroyed by the press. Herman Cain is the archetype of that person.
If they aren't destroyed by the press, they're destroyed by fellow Republicans because NO ONE is good enough.
Only in the minds of cainbots.
You don't wait on the campaign to change the minds of voters who don't exist ~ like Romney thought he was going to attract that 10% of undecided moderates in the middle ~ when there is no middle, and there was no 10%.
The Democrats beat that by getting out more Democrats to vote for Obama ~ although a lot less of them than they'd had in 2008!