It was a Republican state party boss, Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, who early [last] century stated with notable candor the basic principle and purpose of present-day party politics. In the face of a powerful state and national resurgence of reform and the sentiments of the majority of the Republican rank and file, Penrose put up a losing slate of stand-pat party hacks. When a fellow Republican accused him of ruining the party, Penrose replied, “Yes, but I’ll preside over the ruins.”
~ from Walter Karp’s 1973 book, Indespensible Enemies (p. 14)
The GOP Establishment precept: Above all else, control the party. Even if it means losing one or more elections, they will do whatever they can — and whatever they must — to maintain control of the party.