Conservative activists have two ways to intimidate the Republican Party. The first is via primary challenges to candidates deemed too squishy. The second is to threaten that conservative voters will sit on their hands in general elections if their desires are not propitiated.

This second method is usually implicit, but occasionally it’s important for the organized Right to come right out and try to deny Republicans votes. That’s what happened today on a very limited basis for three Christian Right organizations.

The homophobic National Organization for Marriage and two branches of the Focus on the Family empire (the Family Research Council and CitizenLink) called on good righteous folk in three states to without their ballots from one Republican Senate nominee and two Republican House nominees.

The House candidates were kind of obvious targets: Richard Tisei of MA-06 and Carl DeMaio of CA-52. Both are openly gay; Tisei is married and DeMaio has featured his partner in campaign ads. Best of all, the races they are in are close enough that if they lose the Christian Right groups can take credit and probably no one will be able to prove otherwise (in MA-06, the first poll out since Rep. John Tierney was upset in the Democratic primary shows his vanquisher, Seth Moulton, leading Tisei by eight points).

The Senate candidate the groups have opposed is Oregon’s Monica Wehby, who’s run ads celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriages, and is pro-choice. She’s also losing by 20 points in the most recent poll and running a generally bad campaign, which means the Christian Right will evade blame and vengeance if Wehby loses and Republicans don’t win control of the Senate.

Groups like these will then move on to their next opportunity to punch far above their weight: the 2016 presidential nominating contest.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.