Do you guys remember Nixon's "Southern Strategy"? Probably not, I doubt you even remember Nixon. Anyway what Nixon did from the '68 election (which he won by a whisker over arguably the worst candidate who ever lived Hubert Humphrey) to the '72 election, which he won in a landslide, was peel away the Southern, white, Protestant vote and the Northern Catholic social conservative vote. He went from about 48% to 61% in four years. Not too shabby. Anyway Nixon did it by appealing to the "silent majority" of patriotic, God fearing, hard working Americans who weren't smoking dope and listening to Jimi Hendrix (and even a few who were, present company accepted). Hell he even got a lot of union endorsements. As you might imagine that shift scared the Holy living shit out of the Democrats and played a major role in their "shoot the moon" strategy to get Nixon at all costs, and they pulled it off.
So, tell me again how a socially conservative Republican Party will hurt themselves? Will it hurt with Southern whites? No, I think not. Will it hurt with Catholics? No, I don't think so. Will it help attract all those "naturally conservative Hispanics" Republicans are always yapping about? I'm thinking HELL YES!
Here's the thing. When Nixon put together this new coalition he lost the Republican left. The Rockefella, Jacob Javits, Henry Cabot Lodge, Lowell Weicker wing of the party was LIVID! They didn't have a lot of numbers but they had the money, and now they had no place to spend it. Well they've made a comeback (of course) and guys like GHWB, Bob Dole and yes Mitt Romney are THEIR kinda guys. In terms of direction and policy they aren't all that concerned about losing, they just want to control the money pot every few years. But what they absolutely DON'T want and will not tolerate is another Reagan.
So, now you know. Our brilliant Republican leaders have lost the Reagan Democrats, the Northern Catholics, and they're about to lose Southern whites. Go along with Jeb or one of these other Northeastern, Midwestern Republicans and you'll be no better off than with Hillary. The litmus test this cycle is immigration (the ultimate social issue). If they won't give us that then they don't want us and the Republican Party is yesterdays news.