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Monday, November 02, 2009

Race For New York's 23rd Congressional District Heats Up

Polling is all over the place since Republican Dede Scozzafava suspended her campaign after being trounced by her Republican rival, Doug Hoffman, and threw her endorsement behind Democratic candidate, Bill Owens.

According to PPP:

Doug Hoffman has a commanding lead in the special election for New York's 23rd Congressional District.

In a three way contest with Democrat Bill Owens and Republican Dede Scozzafava Hoffman leads with 51% to 34% for Owens and 13% for Scozzafava. In a head to head contest with Owens Hoffman holds a 54-38 advantage.

Nate Silver, over at FiveThirtyEight calls this race "nearly impossible to forecast", then lists three major questions about the race.

1. Would Dede Scozzafava have dropped out if she thought it would hurt the Democrat Owens, whom she's endorsed?

2. What type of electorate will show up?

3. Who should Democrats be rooting for?

Answer to question number one: Personally I never saw Scozzafava as a conservative, despite the R next to her name and I don't think Scozzafava thought ahead enough to know whether her endorsement at this late date would have a major impact on the race. I think she threw her support to Owens because she was trounced by Hoffman and it was no more than vindictiveness.

Answer to question number two: Being a special election, there will not be the turnout generally associated with large elections and polling has shown the Democratic base is not as energized as it was during the presidential election, which I believe will hurt Owens in this election and help Hoffman because the Republican base, according to the latest polling, is far more energized now.

Answer to question number three: That should be a no brainer. Democrats should be rooting for Owens to win to attempt to offset the Virginia race in which the Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell is showing a double digit (13) lead over his Democratic rival, Creigh Deeds.

Just as a FYI, Scozzafava's campaign manager, Matt Burns, is supporting Hoffman, stating "I am supporting Doug Hoffman, because denying Nancy Pelosi another foot soldier is vital to restoring fiscal responsibility and common sense in Washington."

He continues on to say "I don't think supporting a candidate who would back Nancy Pelosi is the best way to get our nation on the right track."

Wall Street Journal delves into how the voters, via the polls, made a point to the GOP, clearly:

Picked by GOP elites without a primary and with a voting record to the left of many Albany Democrats, Ms. Scozzafava faced a revolt by local and national conservatives in favor of businessman Doug Hoffman, who was nominated on the Conservative Party line. The longtime GOP assemblywoman saw herself falling in the polls and yesterday endorsed Democratic lawyer Bill Owens, who could still win the GOP-leaning seat with a plurality.

The voter revolt ought to be a lesson to the GOP's backroom boys, especially in New York state, where the old Al D'Amato insider club has led the party to irrelevance. GOP state chairman Joe Mondello, now thankfully retired, and Beltway bigs misjudged public dismay against the Democratic agenda in Washington. Nominating a candidate who "can win" in the Northeast does not have to mean someone whose voting record is more liberal on taxes and unions than that of most Blue Dog Democrats.

Conservative voters do not want a liberal hiding behind the Republican brand, they want fiscally conservative candidates.

If that mean staying in the minority a little longer in the House and Senate, in order to force GOP leaders to pick conservative candidates instead of liberal candidates.. then so be it, according to the activists.

Many of the activists who helped knock out Scozzafava told POLITICO that the passion is building despite — and sometimes to spite — Republican leaders in Washington.

“I don’t give a crap about party,” said Jennifer Bernstone, a tea party organizer for Central New York 912, which helped to lead the anti-Scozzafava charge. “Grass-roots activists don’t care about party.”

Says Everett Wilkinson, a tea party organizer in Florida: “We are not going to allow our [movement] to be stolen by the GOP or by any political party.”

This energy on the right seems to exist outside the control of the conventional political structure, and GOP politicians and operatives are as likely to be victims of this anger as beneficiaries.

Expect races across the country to start heating up in the same manner as elections near.