Any conservatives elected would join a small cadre of Tea Party favorites already in the Senate, including Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Florida’s Marco Rubio.

If more senators join them and Republicans end up with a majority, conservatives hope they will be able to force their agenda on Romney or Obama. They cite the example of the welfare reform undertaken by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996 as an example of what a Republican-controlled Congress can achieve regardless of who is in the White House.

“The Senate gives conservatives their greatest opportunity to have an impact in 2012,” said Republican strategist and CivicForumPAC chairman Ford O’Connell. “And the Senate is doubly important because no one should underestimate President Obama, he’s the best campaigner I’ve ever seen.”

“Once the Republican presidential nomination process is over,” he added, “the real story is going to be the Senate.”