Having pushed back against the conventional wisdom on the Tea Party costing Republicans, I will say this: conservatives ought to seek out higher quality candidates as their standard-bearers. If Joe Miller comes up short in Alaska, he won't have lost because he was too conservative. He will have lost because of his own defects as a candidate.
This isn't to argue that conservatives are wrong to pick rough-around-the-edges insurgents over polished RINOs. But to win under the glare of a hostile media, you do need candidates who can withstand scrutiny. A conservative state legislator, if one could have been found, would have still beaten Mike Castle in the Delaware primary and might have stood a marginally better chance in the general election. A conservative with a better get-out-the-vote operation than Sharron Angle would have stood a better chance against Harry Reid. Some primaries might have gone differently as well -- think California with someone more effective than Chuck DeVore or Arizona with someone other than JD Hayworth.
I'm not arguing that savvy should replace principles as the primary consideration in determining which candidate to support. And obviously, you must go to war with the conservatives you have rather than the ones you wish you had. O'Donnell and Hayworth were the conservatives willing to run in those races. But I do think candidate quality needs to be a consideration, at least.
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