The US Republican party is meeting for the first time since the November elections in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Election results showed the advantage of President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats among women and minorities.

There is broad agreement that the Republican Party needs to undergo fundamental changes to remain competitive as surging minority populations re-shape the American electorate.

However, Republicans are said to be in some ways as divided as ever.

Olympia Snowe, a three-term Republican senator who retired last year said: "They're really going to have to do full throttle self-examination. They have alienated so many people who are Republicans,"

The formal theme of the Republican National Committee's winter meeting, "Renew, Grow, Win" reflects an understanding that the party must grow to survive.

This week's meeting will focus on the need to abandon harsh rhetoric on illegal immigration.

The party will also focus on women's issues and the social safety net, rhetoric that helped drive moderate voters and minorities toward Democrats last fall.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney helped alienate many Hispanic voters by highlighting his support for a fence along the Mexican border and "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants.

Republican candidates for other posts alienated female voters by backing new abortion laws in some states.

Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri hurt himself and his party by declaring that women's bodies could prevent pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape."

Exit polls make clear that Republicans face an uphill battle if they hope to repair their image.

President Obama dramatically outperformed Mr Romney among Hispanics last Autumn, winning 71% of the growing demographic compared to Mr Romney's 27%.

That was the Republican Party's worst showing among Hispanics since 1996, according to exit polling collected by The Associated Press.

It was worse among black voters, who supported Mr Obama over Mr Romney - 93% percent to 6%.

The disparity is less acute among women, with Mr Obama capturing 53%  of the female vote.

Two decades have passed since a Republican presidential candidate last hit the 50% mark with women.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus is under intense pressure to improve the Republican brand to attract more women and Hispanics, while not upsetting the hard-line conservatives who represent his party's most passionate voters.

Republicans from across the nation will decide tomorrow whether Mr Priebus, 40, deserves a second term.

Mr Priebus is widely expected to win re-election, despite a challenge from Maine National Committeeman Mark Willis.