The Republican has had a long, controversial history since its founding in 1854 as a party opposed to the expansion of slavery, and containing within itself, those opposed to the institution of slavery itself.
After only six years, the Republican Party reached majority control of both houses of Congress and the White House, with Abraham Lincoln.
From then until 52 years later, 1912, the GOP dominated American politics, except in the South, where the Democrats prevailed.
In 1912, the party split between former President Theodore Roosevelt, an extremely popular and path breaking President, the greatest Republican President since Lincoln, and the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, who was supported by conservatives of the time against TR’s Progressive Party challenge, which led to Taft only winning two states and 23 percent of the national popular vote, and putting Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the White House.
While the Republicans recovered in the 1920s, and almost defeated Wilson in 1916 with their nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, the Great Depression decimated the Republican Party, and the Democrats became the majority party, while the Republicans continued to battle between moderates and conservatives, with the moderates winning the nominations for President, until finally, Senator Barry Goldwater defeated the Establishment forces led by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1964, 52 years after the earlier collapse. Goldwater went on to lose the popular vote in a two way race by a larger margin than ever in American history, with Lyndon B. Johnson winning over 61 percent of the national vote.
This massive defeat did not end the civil war in the GOP, with Gerald Ford just barely winning the nomination over Ronald Reagan in 1976, and losing a very close race to Jimmy Carter. But Reagan then won the White House, and the right wing felt it was in its glory, although Reagan was, actually, very unpredictable in his policies and views, and would today, probably be rejected by the extreme right wing in control of the GOP in 2015.
The right wing was unhappy with George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney as insufficiently conservative, and now there is full scale civil war in the GOP, including revolts against Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The rise of Donald Trump, Dr. Benjamin Carson, and Carly Fiorina, all non office holders, demonstrates the right wing desire to fight the GOP establishment, but what it means is certain defeat in 2016.
Likely, no matter who is nominated, the Republican Party is, seemingly, at a 52 year mark, again ready to implode upon itself, and give the Democrats long term control of the Presidency, as the situation now appears!