Roger Keyser, 70, suggested that in theory, the tea party should be more forgiving of disagreements within their ranks. But voting for Boehner? “There was no excuse for that one,” Keyser said.

Primary challenges have been the movement’s biggest weapon, pushing already conservative members further right and forcing incumbents and more moderate members to run fierce and expensive campaigns, even on seemingly uncompetitive turf. But last year, the tea party candidates vying in the most competitive Senate races overwhelmingly lost as mainstream Republican groups put big money behind their own slate of candidates.

Attendees here, however, didn’t agree on why their candidates lost, or even on how badly — making it tougher for those who do see problems to unite around a course correction.