After what was by any measure a disastrous election cycle for Republicans in North Carolina, there has understandably been a lot of handwringing among the party's activists about what needs to be done to turn it around.
A lot of them think the solution is for the party to be more conservative. One blogger even says the party needs to 'root out it's (sic) moderates.'
In 2002 when Elizabeth Dole generally came across as a moderate, she won big. In 2008 she came across as a mean, old conservative devoted to party above state and got walloped.
Pat McCrory, another relative moderate, came closer than anyone else could have to getting elected Governor as a Republican this year. When we tested possible general election match ups in February McCrory was tied with Bev Perdue while Bill Graham and Fred Smith, each perceived as more conservative candidates, trailed her by 12 points a piece. As a Democrat, I was hoping fervently that Fred Smith would win the Republican primary. Bev would have won by double digits if he had.
The two Republicans who have managed to get elected Governor hardly projected as right wingers.
Yes, Jesse Helms was very successful for a long time. But that was in 20th century North Carolina. The state's face in the 21st century, as we saw last month, is quite a different story.
I hope the NC GOP roots out its moderates because that would ensure another generation of Democratic control in the state, as well as continued success for Democrats at the federal level. But it's hardly a winning strategy if they really want to turn their party around.