The general polls seems to argue for this months ago, so it was curious that the official statements came reflexively, rather than before (as a "if you re-elect us, we will move forward to better serve our conservative principles" type proclamation).
Most curious, however, was the post-election stepping down of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Bush's constant support for him is what many feel got the GOP in trouble with conservatives who were not happy with the war. Whether Bush felt Rumsfeld gave them the best chance in Iraq (during the campaign period) is irrelevant. Rumsfeld and/or Bush likely would have giving the GOP a better shot if they did this months ago. Yes, it would be a PR move, but judging by the funding going to PR efforts in Iraq, the Administration is not unaware of how PR fits into war. Slate favorite: conservative blogger Ed Morrissey agrees.
However, the timing of this move seems ludicrous. Just two weeks ago, Bush riled up the electorate by pledging unwavering support for Rumsfeld for the next two years. I'm sure that a number of Republican politicians who find themselves out of a job wonder why this decision didn't get made two months ago, and why Bush had to issue that unhelpful statement in the midst of the midterm struggles. Obviously, Bush can live without Rumsfeld, and obviously the White House now understands the drag that Rumsfeld had on the GOP. Otherwise, he wouldn't be out today. Why didn't anyone at the White House figure this out two or three months ago, when the transition to Gates could have demonstrated a little more flexibility on Iraq?