...is this: The Republicans now know what they need to do to field serious presidential and congressional candidates. They have seen first hand that marching in lock-step with their party's most extreme elements (the Tea Party) is a recipe for disaster. The majority of Americans are not extremists.
For too long Mitt Romney had to pander to the Tea Party, telling them what they wanted to hear in order to get his party's nomination, and then couldn't back-track fast enough to show he was a moderate. He made a good effort with the first presidential debate, but it was too little, too late, and his public 180 was probably considered too hypocritical.
And the disaster wasn't just at the top of the ticket, either. Many of the leading congressional Tea Party-backed candidates were defeated, too. If the larger Republican party is smart, and I think they are, they will begin to distance themselves from the extreme elements in their party and move back towards the middle. They don't have to be afraid to be moderates, to stand up to the Tea Party and say, "NO, you're wrong!"
Now would be a great time to do that. Both parties need to sit down and begin working together for the first time in a long time to constructively address many of the problems facing our country. Looks like the ball is now in the (Republican controlled) House of Representatives' court. Have they gotten the message or not? We'll soon find out.