I would like to propose an additional criterion for Operation Counterweight, for those that want to ensure a more conservative congress to go along with a Romney presidency (It’s pretty clear that’s the contingency that OC is preparing for, so let’s talk in those terms).
The conservative grassroots cannot assume that Romney will defeat Obama without us voting and mobilizing with everything we’ve got. Romney will need our help to send Obama back to Chicago. As Instapundit reminds us in his blog comment of the day:
Plenty of otherwise intelligent people convinced themselves to vote for Obama last time. They could be stupid again. Too soon to get cocky.
Those who also want a more conservative Congress should, in the general, prioritize districts that are also in swing states. OC won’t be so useful without a GOP win at the presidential level, so this way people can go out to vote for whom they are excited to vote for while still pushing the ball forward in getting rid of Obama.
Besides, if OC had the carrot of reverse coattails (I.e. Up-ticket candidates benefitting from enthusiasm for down ticket candidates) to balance the stick of unhappiness, it can be seen as helping the party in addition to challenging it.
Now truth be told, OC does not excite me. For one, I like Romney, although sucessfully electing conservatives to congress is always a good thing. If he does not disappoint, the new conservative officeholders will be just as handy as if he did, but if he is not elected, they won’t be counterbalancing any better than congress is now.
However, putting that aside, OC will cost us some votes at the presidential level regardless, because campaign efforts properly organized and centralized can be better optimized. I understand that some will be unwilling to join up at their local RNC/Romney base of operations and ask for their marching orders, and that downticket candidates need staff too (although in all likelihood the GOP will have joint operations in many places anyway). However, it is best for the conservative movement, the GOP, and the country that we keep in mind that the left will be pulling out all the stops to keep Obama in office, and we cannot afford to waste resources in our quest to stop them.
If you can get the vote out for a candidate you are enthusiastic about, but also help Romney beat Obama, you can efficiently use resources while sticking to your commitments to focus on candidates that you can enthusiastically support. For those who for whatever reason are unable to tow the party line, this is the optimal strategy.
(As an additional side comment, while I understand advocating conservative candidates in conservative districts that have vulnerable Democrats, I don’t see why having a vulnerable Republican is a plus. In a district in which a moderate incumbent Republican is vulnerable, a more conservative candidate is more likely to do worse than better In a district where a Republican is safe, however, there is more room for primary challenges that do not risk aggravating the problem by giving the Democrats the seat.)