Politics is a practical business, about accomplishing concrete goals and winning elections in an environment in which most people don’t care about politics very much. Becoming a successful cable news or talk radio host is about attracting a relatively small audience of die-hard fans and whipping them into various frenzies.
I think the problem is worse than that for the GOP. Their leaders are positively toxic in terms of unpopularity--conservatives tend to talk about Nancy Pelosi's unpopularity, but John Boehner has roughly the same level of unfavorability and only half the favorables. Their leaders, without exception, come from deep-red enclaves and have only ever had to deal with challenges from the right. It's a party, basically, whose playbook begins and ends with Rovism, and they're running that playbook, step by step.