What happened in North Carolina Tuesday night?

I think that blogger CAC at Ace’s hits the nail on the head in this post, and points out a problem that GOP conservatives had better figure out a solution to or they’ll be griping even more about the vast-RINO-conspiracy against them:

I’ve seen a lot of hemming and hawing about how the villainous Karl Rove and his band of toads flooded the zone and dragged “their guy” Tillis across the finish line in yesterday’s North Carolina primary…

…[But] over 54% of Republican primary voters did not vote for Tillis. Had these other voters consolidated behind a single candidate, as the establishment always does even if they have to switch gears to do so (see the maneuvering to push Christie out and test Bush), Brannon or Harris would be the one facing Senator Hagan.

Conservatives jump from candidate to candidate in a lot of these races, and the more who throw their hat into the ring, the further it dilutes their voice in the primary.

CAC calls it the Baskin-Robbins problem. But whatever you want to call it, it consists of the fact that the Tea Party, a group of individualists, must somehow coalesce behind the best conservative candidate in each race if it is going to both maximize its power and choose an individual who actually has a chance of winning in the general, although it’s not at all clear that either Brannon or Harris would have been that person in this particular race.

Kay Hagan, who will be the Democrat running for re-election, certainly believed that Tillis was her most formidable opponent.

But the advantages of unity are something that conservatives sometimes lose sight of in their need to find someone who agrees with them on all measures. “Stab-in-the-back” theories are often advanced to explain their losses.

And yes, there is little doubt that there are some powerful RINO Republicans who are working against Tea Party interests, sometimes successfully.

But when one looks at many of the actual Tea Party candidates and the actual races they actually lose and how and why, there’s often no need to blame a RINO conspiracy because there are other rather obvious reasons for the losses. The candidates they field had better be smart, appealing, and not so numerous that they split the conservative vote. That’s not rocket science to figure out, although it’s not all that easy to accomplish.

So conservatives lose time and focus complaining about their victimization. It would be more productive to start figuring out how to win.

One more thing: Democratic candidates have figured all of this out, and in recent years have taken the tack (which they attempted in their campaign against Tillis, whom they—rightly, I believe—saw as their most dangerous opposition) of trying to influence the Republican primaries so that the weaker candidates win. Funding ads aimed at convincing conservatives that the strongest GOP candidate is too moderate and is really a RINO is part of the plan. It didn’t work effectively enough against Tillis last night, but it might work in the future. Divide and conquer.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]