WASHINGTON - The Republican National Committee announced an inquiry Monday to look at what went wrong in 2012's presidential election and how the GOP could respond to the nation's shifting demographics and adopt smarter political strategies.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus asked a group of five respected party leaders to examine how the GOP could better talk with voters, raise money from donors, and learn from Democrats' tactics.

As part of a top-to-bottom review, Preibus also asked the group, known as the Growth and Opportunity Project, to look at how campaigns were best organized and deployed, how they ccould work with independent groups such as super political action committees, and how the party should approach the 2016 presidential primaries.

"The Growth and Opportunity Project will recommend a plan to further ensure Republicans are victorious in 2013, 2014, 2016, and beyond," Priebus said in a statement.

Romney's loss Nov. 6 to President Obama has left the GOP without a clear leader, but with many questions about its future. Exit polls indicated Obama carried female, black, Hispanic, and Asian voting blocs. He also won among voters younger than 45 and those in mid- to large-size cities.

That adds up to a quandary for a party looking ahead at gubernatorial races next year in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as 2014's midterm elections.

Soul-searching after political embarrassments is nothing new, of course. After President Ronald Reagan carried 49 states in his 1984 re-election, Democrats retooled their party and set in motion pragmatic shifts that resulted in the rise of the New Democrats that Bill Clinton rode to the nomination eight years later.

Among those leading the inquiry are Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, and Sally Bradshaw, a veteran strategist and top adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour, a GOP strategist and nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, will be part of the group, too. RNC members Zori Fonalledas of Puerto Rico and Glenn McCall of South Carolina round out the five-person committee.