Another plugged-in conservative argues that if Ernst hadn’t won the primary, some national Republicans would have celebrated her demise.

“Winning cures everything,” he said. “Now Joni Ernst is this fantastic candidate. If she’d lost, she’s just this crazy lady with the pig ad.”

Iowa wasn’t the only race where conservative and Tea Party movers showed unusual discretion and restraint. Prominent Republicans cringed as the Georgia primary got rolling; Rep. Paul Broun, who called evolution and the Big Bang theory “lies straight from the pit of Hell,” and Rep. Phil Gingrey, who defended Todd Akin’s career-ending rape comments, both entered that contest. That could have meant catastrophe: Two hard-right, gaffe-prone, good-ol’-boy Georgians running in a contest to see who’s the most conservative—what could go wrong?

But, oddly enough, the answer was nothing. Broun and Gingrey’s candidacies never got momentum. National conservatives steered clear of them. And nobody said anything insane about sexual assault (at least, nothing that got leaked to reporters).

“Paul Broun’s poor performance vindicates the Tea Party vetting process,” said one conservative operative. “People encouraging him to run said, ‘Don’t be Akin and O’Donnell.’ And his people were like, ‘Awesome, thanks for the advice!’ ”