Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Interpreting NY-23

Here come the post-mortems on the results of NY-23 last night.

Democrats will say it shows the dysfunction of the Republican party, because they ate their own and delivered a victory to the Democrat. They will say it lays bare the rift in the Republican party between the Tea Party element and the party establishment, and ensures that there will be contested primaries all over the country that will further damage the party and weaken it for 2010.

I don't see it that way. I think this has a few relevant facets.

The party screwed up big time by putting Scozzafava up as the candidate. There was no nominating election - it was done by a handful of party establishment types. From the start it was clear that she was a horrible fit for the district. Had they simply put up even a minimally acceptable candidate, they would have rolled to victory and avoided this whole mess.

Hoffman wasn't really an ideal candidate himself. He was pretty much a stiff. Zero charisma. Kind of the fringe type of guy who would step into this kind of a breach - a situation that isn't usually going to attract the most polished and mainstream person, and he wasn't.

So the fact that he lost isn't all that surprising.

Scozzafava proved herself, in the end, to be everything her opponents said she was when she gracelessly endorsed the Democrat. In her heart, she was a Democrat. Why the party ran her is mysterious.

But this loss isn't altogether a bad thing. First, Owens is almost certainly a one termer. This is a Republican district.

So on the negative side of the ledger, we have a one term Democrat in a Republican district. On the positive side, we have a very strong message sent to the establishment Republicans: NO MORE RINOS IN DISTRICTS WHERE A CONSERVATIVE CAN WIN!

And guess what? President Obama is doing a very good job at bringing Conservatism back into vogue again, which means that there will be LOTS of districts where a real conservative can win.
NY-23 was indeed a family fight, and there was some collateral damage. But the result will be a party that fields candidates who are far more in step with the reality of the political facts on the ground.

It was a wake up call to an out-of-step Republican party establishment, and it is a good thing it happened.


Anonymous said...

The most important clue that the right thing happened in NY 23 is the Democrats warning that Republicans are doing the wrong thing by insisting on candidates that support at least some of the Party's goals. If Democrats really believed that nominating conservative candidates and publicly throwing liberal Republicans under the bus would help Democrats, they'd shut up and let the party commit suicide.

Klatu said...

Doug Hoffman should go to Candidate School, stay visible, and try again next year in New York 23. He definitely has NAME RECOGNITION now.

MAX Redline said...

It's difficult to define the district as a Republican district because it's been the subject of so much re-districting. Nonetheless, since the Civil War, there have been 18 Democratics elected to represent the people of that area.

More to the point, however, is the fact that an unknown and awkward conservative lost to a well-known Democratic by a mere four points. I don't believe that Scuzzo's gracious endorsement of her colleague had any significant impact upon the results; more important, I suspect, was the fact that she waited until essentially the last minute to bail. The tactic ensured that her name remained on the ballot and may well have drawn the early absentee segment, whose votes were cast before she dropped out.

rural resident said...

Max, when you're getting info from Wikipedia, you want to read the entire article.

The 23rd Congressional District hasn't always been located where it is now--in northeastern NY. Earlier in the previous century, it was in the New York metro area, including the Bronx and Manhattan. Obviously, the district numbered "23" at those times would have had some on and off Dem representation.

Redistricting during a period when New York has been losing seats (they had 43 rep seats in the 1960s, 29 now, and there will be fewer after the next census) has led to the numbers of districts moving around even more than they normally do.

When people note that "the 23rd" hasn't been represented by a Democrat since before the Civil War, they're talking about the core of the geographic area. That includes all or part of 11 counties, featuring the cities of Watertown and Plattsburg. It isn't the district number that's important; it's the geographic area. The people in that area have been solid Republican for well over a century.

MAX Redline said...

Nice, RR - next time, try reading for comprehension. I said that 23 has been subject to much re-districting. It has, no question.

The main point (which you conveniently ignored) was that an unknown conservative lost by four points. To an established politician with high name recognition. That's telling. I doubt that Owens will hold that seat for long.