Back in January, 2015 was shaping up as a good year for the Republican Party. The GOP had taken control of the Senate and added seats in the House, and its leaders in Congress vowed to show the country Republicans could govern as well as obstruct. The party had a deep field of presidential candidates – fresh faces with new ideas – bound to catch the imagination of the American electorate.

It hasn’t worked out that way. In one of the most interesting, if little reported, polls of the season, the Pew Research Center found that voters’ views of the Republican Party have fallen sharply since January. Just 32 percent now have a favorable view of the GOP – down 9 points in six months - while 60 percent have an unfavorable view. Views of the Democratic Party are split: 48 percent favorable, 47 percent unfavorable.

I’m guessing last week’s debate, for all its entertainment value, didn’t do much to help the Republican brand.

In Congress, Republicans have been foiled by their own divisions, unable to complete even basic tasks like reauthorizing highway funding, let alone deliver the big changes they’ve long promised. Even Republicans are disappointed by the Republicans in Congress.

The presidential campaign hasn’t worked out like party leaders envisioned either, at least not so far. In the overcrowded field, the new face that has stood out belongs to Donald Trump, who is neither a loyal Republican nor a consistent conservative. Instead of new ideas, the presidential candidates are opening old wounds. Instead of reaching out to voters outside its core demographic, the candidates are alienating them.

You can’t say no one saw this coming:

The federal wing of the Republican Party “is increasingly marginalizing itself,” a Republican National Committee “autopsy” of the 2012 election warned, “and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.”

The report, signed by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, was blunt. Young voters are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents,” it says. Minority voters “wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” It singles out Mitt Romney’s call for “self-deportation” as a reason Republicans got just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.

“You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you,” GOP insider and Tea Party leader Dick Armey told the panel.

But Donald Trump has been calling Hispanics ugly – to wild applause from Republicans. Trump has seen Romney’s self-deportation and raised it to forced deportation – and the other candidates are toughening their positions on immigration to keep up.

Trump is calling women ugly as well – at least those women who challenge him. Megyn Kelly of Fox News provided examples of Trump’s insults – “fat pigs, slobs, dogs and disgusting animals” – and asked whether that would feed the Democrats’ “war on women” narrative.

Trump’s response was that he “doesn’t have time” to stop insulting women because of their looks – and to declare his own war on Megyn Kelly. In a retweet Friday, he branded her a “bimbo,” and things escalated with a Trump comment other Republicans said seemed to blame Kelly’s tough questions on PMS. As is his style, Trump responded with insults and defiance – and no effort to apologize.

Even without Trump’s smart mouth and string of trophy wives, the Republican Party has a problem with single women, who now make up a quarter of the electorate. In 2012, two-thirds of them voted for Obama.

Single women respond to many issues, but they especially care about access to reproductive health care. Single women are as divided as the rest of America on abortion, but they are more likely to know that Planned Parenthood provides essential services to millions of women like them. Yet Republicans have now decided to make putting Planned Parenthood out of business a central pillar of their platform.

Priebus’ autopsy warned that unless the GOP has something to say to Hispanics, African-Americans, young people and women, it will “shrink to its core constituencies.” But the nominating process empowers the core constituencies in states like Iowa and South Carolina. That core is angry and out of line with independent voters on a range of issues, from climate change, to marriage equality, to health and education.

Yes, it’s early, and the Democrats have liabilities of their own. But things aren’t going well so far for the GOP, and the party’s problems run deeper than the wild card that is Donald Trump.

Rick Holmes writes for GateHouse Media and the MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at rholmes@wickedlocal.com. Like him on Facebook at Holmes & Co., and follow him at @HolmesAndCo.