The presidential election results are seen as a repudiation of the Republican Party. Most pundits predicted a bitter battle within the party on immigration -- that if the far right doesn't change its intractable position, then the GOP is doomed down the road.
"The Republican Party needs to move forward, not sideways," said Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist and CNN contributor.
Castellanos, who was a Romney adviser in 2008, compared this moment to the early 1990s for Democrats, when Bill Clinton brought the party closer to the center. "They transformed their party. Republicans are still seen as the party of not having enough solutions," Castellanos said.
"We've got a failing, tanking economy going over the cliff -- and the opposition party was not seen as an alternative."
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen agreed, saying it's imperative that the GOP must transform itself. "It's extremely unhealthy for the country to have a Republican Party that relies on whites for about 90% of their national vote," he said.
Borger said President George W. Bush was rebuffed by the GOP base when he pushed for immigration reform 10 years ago -- a stance she said haunted this election for Republicans.
"When you look back on this election, when you look back to the primaries, when you look back to Mitt Romney moving to the right on immigration," Borger said, "I think it was a huge opportunity that they missed."
There will be gnashing of teeth in the days, weeks and months ahead. What lies in store for the Republican Party remains a long way off.
Shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, Romney walked onto a stage in Boston and told the crowd he had called Obama to congratulate him on the victory. "I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation," he said.
At the end, he walked from the podium to the middle of the stage and gave his wife, Ann, a kiss. Running mate Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna, and Romney family members joined him. The crowd chanted, "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!"
He and Ann then walked hand-in-hand.
The Romneys exited stage right.