Mike Huckabee and the Modern GOP's [real] Goals
New (serious) theory: the social-conservative national-level Republicans aren't even trying to win elections anymore; their goal is merely to win candidacies, so they can make stump speeches, get party financial backing and use that as a springboard to the lucrative lecture circuit.
Anecdote: in early 2008, when I got laid off from my alt-weekly job, I very briefly worked on a political [Congressional] campaign, but soon quit when I realized I'm not cut out for such work, even if it's a candidate I fully support.
This was the situation: 2008 election season when, you recall, the Republican Party brand name was extremely tainted, especially in Connecticut, which is a heavily Democratic state anyway. And in that particular district, in 2008, it had been exactly 50 years since the district had last sent a Republican to Congress. So: it's an anti-Republican district in an anti-Republican state at a time when even pro-Republican states were distancing themselves from the party brand, and I'm at this political meeting with the Republican town gadfly who wants to be a congressman and unseat a popular (though corrupt) incumbent, and I remember making some suggestion -- don't recall what, but it was definitely a "small government, personal liberty, fiscal conservative" suggestion, not a "social conservative sex-hating nutcase" idea -- but the party chairman said something like "That wouldn't play well to our base."
And I -- still naive enough to think they wanted actual advice on how to try winning this election, or at least give the incumbent a genuine challenge -- told him: "This district hasn't sent a Republican to Congress in half a century. I don't think your base is enough to win an election." Yikes. If I'd suggested the candidate make a point of publicly picking his nose at campaign appearances, that chairman could not have looked any more contemptuous than he already did.
The candidate lost, of course. That district remains firmly Democratic to this day.