Eli Lehrer makes the case for political figures like Bob McDonnell:
A Republican party that can't capture the educated simply won't have much to run on. While plenty of very bright and able people don't attend college or drop out, successful people, as a group, will always have more college degrees than the unsuccessful. The GOP is dead in the water if it can't attract college grads (the single largest demographic group by education), it can't call for cut-backs in the entitlement state (since so many of its voters will depend on such entitlements); and can't promote enterprise and entrepreneurship convincingly (since the people most able and successful in business won't actually support its platform). Instead, it will have to rely on social issues and incoherent promises to "keep the government out of Medicare."
A Republican who could take a majority of college educated people would almost certainly win a general election unless a Democratic nominee somehow figured out how to siphon off core Republican voters. McDonnell's transportation plan may well be bad. He may deserve criticism for supporting some modest tax increases. But it's silly to say that he's not a conservative; and even sillier to contend that he doesn't have a future in the GOP.