The republican problem can be boiled down to two simple points: lack of coordination / poor communication.
1) They (we) should be marching in lock-step. A key set of talking points should be circulated amonst the party members weekly. Anyone who deviates (Akin / Mourdock) should be quickly alienated as a loon. The republican primaries are the best example of lack of coordination. The in-fighing caused too much delay, cost critical dollars which could have been used in the presidential race, and in the end caused apathy among conservative voters.
2) The conservative message is a great one, but must be communicated by those who can articulate it (back to point 1 - the primary should have been quickly boiled down to 2 candidates.