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.