What NY-23 Tells NY-29

There's been a lot of bullshit promulgated about NY-23, but in the end a simple truth prevailed: Parties lose when they split their votes. Dede Scozzafava's piddling 5% of the vote would have been enough to put Doug Hoffman over the top. Instead, NY-23 went to a Democrat for the first time since the Civil War.

If a third-party candidate enters the NY-29 race, we can expect a similar outcome. Parties win when they energize their base and reach out to the middle. They lose when they divide the votes of the reach-out candidate and the base energizer. All the talk of RINOs, the constitution and "true conservatism" won't change that basic fact.

National blogs like RedState are saying "This is a great win for conservatives." Insofar as I can understand the thinking that would lead to such a statement, my guess is that the author is blithely assuming that NY-23 will be a Republican gimme in 2010.

I invite those who think NY-23 will be a turnover in 2010 to take a look at the history of SD-AL. In a June, 2004 special election, Democrat Stephanie Herseth squeaked out a 51-49 victory. Five months later, she beat the same opponent by a couple more percentage points. Ever since, she's had easy wins in a conservative, rural district.

Incumbency is very powerful, and the current attitude of the conservative Republican base is creating incumbents in districts where they shouldn't exist. Bill Owens now has a year to show the North Country what he's made of, courtesy of Dick Armey, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. As a Democrat, I can only hope that Republicans continue to listen to people who define "winning" as something other than "gaining a majority of votes in an election".


Incumbents are even harder to beat in primaries than a general election, so a Scozzafava win would actually entrench a left-leaning representative *more* in NY-23 than this result. Though that doesn't mean Hoffman '10 is a shoe-in, just that Owens is easier for the right to pick off. Thus it's a win for the right and a loss for the GOP.

Reed, for his faults, is at the very least running a reasonably conservative campaign. A Conservative party candidate would be absolutely detrimental and pointless, but here the battle would be in the primary. Reed is just too solidly to the right for local Conservatives to back someone who lost (or didn't run) in the GOP primaries. Especially after Hoffman's loss, which should inject a bit of political realism for 3rd parties. No 3rd party candidate next year will get a fraction of Hoffman's hype.

Couple of things:

-- Republicans in the House have been voting as a solid bloc for all of 2009. I don't see how Scozzafava would have been much different than Hoffman as a Representative.

-- Hoffman will have much less national attention and money in '10 than he did this year, if he runs as a Republican. (Assuming he gets the R endorsement.) His fundraising in the district stunk. So, I think Owens will be harder to beat in '10 than he was in '09, especially by Hoffman.

Going back to the old idea that all politics are local...... I think the turning point in that race was when Hoffman openly admitted (interview with the Watertown Times & the Syracuse debate) that he didn't know much about local issues which are important to the people of northern NY. He positioned himself as Ronald Reagan running against Nancy Pelosi. Plus his strong stand against "earmarks" hurt him with the Fort Drum folks.

If I had to pick one thing, I'd pick the Dick Armey performance at the Watertown Daily Times, where he called the local issues "parochial", as the thing that lost Hoffman the election. It was a toxic combination: an outsider trying to call the tune combined with disrespect for local issues.

Republicans? Can you spell Lieberman and/or Lamont?

The Democrats didn't think that old Joe was liberal enough.

The big news for today is the GOP taking over the New Jersey Governor's Office -

NJ bops between Republican and Democratic control regularly.

Not so with NY-23.

If Eric doesn’t get in line with Afghanistan and health care the democrats may run a more liberal candidate.

Stranger things have happened.

But not a lot stranger.

Forgot to mention that the New Jersey Governor was an incumbent

He was consistently polling around 40%, which is death for incumbents.