You should clear the decks and read Michael Barone's new piece in the American Interest. It's an examination of the future of the Republican party and I simply don't think you can have an informed view on the subject without drinking in Barone's thoughts first:
One way to look at this election is as a collision of an irresistible force with an immovable object. This irresistible force is the widespread discontent with the direction of the nation today. The immoveble object is the persistent partisan divisions that have prevailed and intensified in presidential, congressional, and state elections over the past twenty years.
Barone isn't talking about party ideology here—he's talking about the numbers that have gridlocked presidential elections since 1992, where both parties have had a firm floor of support:
Democrats have won four of the last six presidential elections, and a plurality of the popular vote in a fifth, while Republicans have won majorities in the House of Representatives in nine of the last 11 congressional elections. But neither side has won by big margins. No major-party nominee has won less than 46 percent of the popular vote or more than 53 percent over the past 16 years, or the past 24 years if you allocate Ross Perot voters in 1992 and 1996 to their second-choice candidates. This is in vivid contrast to the four decades after World War II, in which incumbent Presidents of both parties in times of perceived peace and prosperity won re-election by landslide margins in 1956, 1964, 1972, and 1984. In those years most voters remembered the horrors of the Depression and World War II and were glad to cross party lines for Presidents who seemed to produce better times.
Which in turn has created a locked-in electoral map:
This partisan deadlock has resulted in an unusually stable electoral map by historical standards. Only three states changed their electoral-college votes between 2000 and 2004; only two did so between 2008 and 2012. The list of 11 target states has become familiar even to those who are not political junkies, and campaigns have concentrated most of their organizational and advertising efforts there. Voters have responded accordingly. Total voter turnout sagged between 2008 and 2012, but it was up 0.8 percent in the 11 target states, while it fell 2.7 percent in the rest of the nation. It has become easy to predict how three-quarters or more of the states will vote in presidential elections, even as it has remained difficult to predict which candidate will win.
Go read the whole thing.