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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Lessons of NY-26

Democrat Kathy Hochul won NY-26, a Republican District, in a special election yesterday, with 48 % of the vote.  Jane Corwin, the Republican received 42% and phony Tea Party candidate Jack Davis 9%.  These percentages may change as there are several thousand absentee ballots, but the result is not in doubt.

I had put out an Emergency Call on this race on May 8.  At that time, the concern was that Davis would act as a spoiler; at the time he was polling in the high teens or low 20s.

Republicans finally took notice and knocked Davis down to single digits, but never made the case for Corwin.  In the meantime, Democrats also took notice and poured resources into the district with a "scare grandma" advertising campaign based on the Ryan budget.

There were so many quirks about this race that it's hard to draw simple conclusions, but I think the following apply (in no particular order):
  • A third party candidate can make a difference, and in this case Davis certainly drew more away from Corwin than Hochul.
  • The Tea Party brand is powerful.  A phony like Davis, who petitioned his way onto the ballot and then chose to call his ballot line the "Tea Party" line still managed to draw a significant vote. 
  • National Republicans need to get their act together.  This is not a district which should have been ignored for so long.  The challenge from Davis was noted by me and others in early April.
  • The ability of Democrats to scare grandma should not be underestimated.  Republicans need to be very proactive and very hard hitting is getting ahead of Democrats and explaining not only that no one currently receiving Medicare will be affected, but that the current system will result in severe rationing if changes are not made.
  • We need candidates who are fighters and are seen as fighters.  Corwin was a perfectly good candidate, but she ran a fairly mundane campaign. 
  • In the face of the Democratic scare grandma machine, nice guys and gals will finish last.
  • Motivation matters.  There was a poor turnout by Republicans, who didn't care much.
  • Republicans should stop ignoring conservative bloggers.  Many conservative bloggers, including Sam Foster of Lonely Conservative and Jazz Shaw who blogs at the HotAir Green Room, were all over this race long before anyone else.
  • The MSM will message for Democrats all day long.  Already last night the NY Times rand a banner "Rubuke Seen To Medicare Plan."
Needless to say the media will draw too many pro-Democrat conclusions from this race.  But we need to learn from the mistakes, which need not have ended in a lost District.

As an aside, and minor consolation, redistricting probably will do away with this District, as western upstate NY is losing a seat, due to the loss of population to more business friendly southern and western states.

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  1. Great post. I love your "in the face of Democratic scare grandma machine, nice guys and gals will finish last". As I say in my own post on the subject, glad to see Paul Ryan is following Sarah Palin's advice to Fight Like A Girl! (linked you twice in said post).


  2. As good as the Ryan plan is, it is just too much for voters to swallow all at once. Democrats will use the phrase "medicare cuts" in 2010 just as much as Republicans used the word "ObamaCare" in 2012 and the rout will be on.

    Unless we want Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of the House and Senate, Republicans need to replace the Ryan plan.

    Pat Toomey's Senate bill balances the budget without touching Medicare. The GOP should rally around the Toomey plan, or at least use it as a starting point. Once Toomey's bill is passed House Republicans can work with Senate Democrats and the White House to craft a bi-partisan Medicare fix.

    Otherwise Republicans are going to feel the brunt of the 2012 tidal wave.

    Brian O'Connor


  3. Ryan's not going to back down, and thank God for that:


  4. It appears that in NY, a candidate can win an election without getting a majority of the votes (as opposed to some other states where a mere plurality would force a run-off election between the top two candidates, thus excluding the riff-raff like Jack Davis). Am I correct on this point?

  5. I am going to keep repeating this regardless of how tired people get of hearing it. The establishment GOP is not committed to winning in 2012 but in keeping conservatives from gaining a foothold. They are going to blame the conservatives for losing to Obama in 2012. That sets up "Jebbie" for 2016.

    That is also why, recognizing that Trump is NOT a conservative NOR a real Republican, Trump would help conservatives by threatening to run independent if the GOP insists in running a lame RINO poindexter who doesn't have a chance.

    Next year should be about the very survival of the GOP, "anybody but Obama". That is what Trump brings to the table. He has zero chance of winning the GOP nomination and only a truly weak Republican candidate could open the door for him to actually win the presidency.

  6. Correction to by 12:37 post:

    Next year should be about the very survival of the GOP, NOT "anybody but Obama".

  7. Agree, Professor, and allow me to say that Kathy Hochul was the best candidate in this particular race. I voted for Corwin (I am in NY-26) but knew she was in trouble. Indeed, she was as bland as they come. Republicans simply need to field better candidates and not be so squishy/middle of the road. Conservatism wins.

    I'm not so upset that Hochul won, as I think she is a quality person and stood up to the dem apparatchik at times, but you know what happens when you get to DC - if you don't toe the line, you get bupkus.