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Hoffman loses NY-23 – What does this mean?

November 4, 2009

Who knows. I am afraid it means a diminished voice for conservatives in the GOP. I wasn’t following the race itself just the drama surrounding the GOP / Hoffman fight and I thought that way to much was being made of it, for precisely this reason. Now the party can point to this race and say conservatives can’t win. I know that both the NJ and VA governors races were won by conservatives, but the drama surrounding this race wasn’t there. I also know that Scozzafava served as a spoiler at the last minute still carrying 5% of the vote – which people assume would have gone to Hoffman; I’m not sure about that. If she was as liberal as claimed (and I never looked at her record) then why wouldn’t that 5% gone to Owens and given him an 8 point margin of victory instead of 3? I believe 8 pts is what Obama carried the district by.

I could be wrong though. Maybe the GOP will look at this and say wow conservatives really mobilized behind this guy we need to take this into account. I doubt it however.

Here is what I know for sure. The GOP is now another vote away from being able to exercise any sort of influence on legislation in the House of Representatives. So the question now is was it worth it?

Counting on a victory yesterday Bill Quick wrote

This was a seat hand-picked by Barack Obama for which to do battle, because he thought he could flip it. So: Meaning One – a big loss for Barry and Rahm, and a spike in the lead wheel of the “Obabma Juggernaut.”

This was a race in which the establishment wing of the GOP chose to do battle with its insurgent conservative wing to the bitter end. So: Meaning Two – the conservatives take a big win, and further demonstrate how to “reconcile” the Tea Partiers with the GOP establishment – the establishment needs to move sharply conservative in order to get their votes.

This was a race in which the anointed GOP candidate stood revealed as a hollow, treacherous shell, a Democrat In All But Label Only (DIABLO), yet of a type sadly familiar to conservatives disappointed and betrayed yet again. Meaning Three: The strategy of supporting such candidates has taken a major blow.

Nothing has energized the conservative base like this race. It is tangible evidence that they can buck the mushy-moderate DIABLOs of the national party and win. They’ve had a taste now. Meaning: They’ll want more, and that terrifies the GOP establishment, especially now that they know how to go about getting it.

What will his reassessment be, or is what he wrote still basically true? I wish I had answers here.

Ace thinks that this race was helpful –

Although we lost, I repeat my previous statement that this was cost-free and therefore helpful move. It’s “teaching the GOP a lesson” in a smart way, in a single election (for a term that will last only one year), that will send a short sharp shock that while we may accept RINOs where we absolutely have to, we damnsure won’t be accepting them where we can win with a conservative candidate.

We’re not just going to support liberals just to win; what is the point of “winning” then?


And the GOP can see there will be bloody revolts if this happens again. And that there will, in fact, be money for a more conservative candidate, too.

Maybe I am being unduly pessimistic.

Robert Stacy McCain is also positive –

If the Republican bosses think they’re going to pick another candidate in NY23 for 2010, they’d better think again. The grassroots conservatives — the Tea Party people, the pro-lifers, the Club for Growth, Fred and Jeri Thompson, Sarah Palin — who backed Doug Hoffman aren’t going to forget his courageous example.

So it’s 3 to 1 against me. (I am assuming that Daily Pundit will come to the same conclusion as Ace and McCain.) Hope their right. I guess we will see in about 4 months when the run-up for next years mid-term elections really starts.


Roger L. Simon basically says Social Conservatism is a loser

Well… I might as well say it… social conservatism. America is a fiscally conservative country – now perhaps more than ever, and with much justification – but not a socially conservative one. No, I don’t mean to say it’s socially liberal. It’s not. It’s socially laissez-faire (just as its mostly fiscally laissez-faire). Whether we’re pro-choice, pro-life or whatever we are, most of us want the government out of our bedrooms, just as we want it out of our wallets.

Hoffman’s capital-C Conservative campaign, however, tried to separate itself from the majority parties by making a big deal of the social issues. He was all upset that Scozzafava was pro-gay marriage, seemingly as upset as he was with her support for the stimulus plan. He projected the image of a bluenose in a world that increasingly doesn’t want to hear about these things. Hoffman’s is a selective vision of the nanny state – you can nanny about some things but not about others. I suspect America deeply dislikes nannying about anything.

There is, of course, a message in this for the Republican Party going forward. You can choose to emphasize the social issues or not. Today may show the former is a losing proposition.

That is going to cost him.

Ed Morrisey at Hot Air thinks that NY-23 doesn’t mean much when compared with the NJ and VA governors races. Allahpundit essentially agrees.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. MattJ permalink
    November 4, 2009 6:38 am

    I don’t see it as a setback for conservatives at all. With all due respect to Hoffman, there were several better conservative Republican candidates during the caucus; with a primary for the 2010 elections, a much more representative candidate for the region will be chosen. Hoffman’s willingness to step up ensured that there will not be a liberal Republican incumbent, and gives conservatives a much better chance at taking the seat in the next election.

    I believe that the message sent was that the GOP can no longer count on fiscal conservatives voting for every GOP candidate, no matter how unacceptable they are. This was a seat that could have been easily kept with a fiscally conservative candidate. The Tea Party part of the base will not accept candidates who represent the failed policies of the last 20 years.

    • jenn1964 permalink*
      November 4, 2009 6:43 am

      I hope you are right.

      • MattJ permalink
        November 4, 2009 9:32 am

        Me too 🙂

  2. November 4, 2009 7:40 am

    Of course Ed and Allah agree. Neither one of them have been very thrilled with the conservative insurgency against the GOP establishment. I haven’t changed my assessment, by the way, and this morning I posted this:

    Blaming Hoffman for this loss is like charging a father who dies while trying to rescue his kidnapped child with murder, rather than putting the blame where it belongs: with the kidnapper.

    I think the GOP leadership received this message loud and clear. The next question is: How will they respond to it?

    And my next battle? Rubio In Florida, Baby! Rubio In Florida!

  3. genes permalink
    November 4, 2009 3:40 pm

    It means that the Repubs running a Rino stole votes from the conservative. The 6% DD got would have put Hoffman into office.

    • jenn1964 permalink*
      November 4, 2009 7:09 pm

      I am just not sure of that. It just isnt that likely that Hoffman would have gotten all those votes and without them Owens still would have won.

  4. November 4, 2009 7:34 pm

    I am just not sure of that. It just isnt that likely that Hoffman would have gotten all those votes and without them Owens still would have won.

    This only works if you think that NY-23 is not a historically GOP district. There were several local factors that probably ended up working against Hoffman right at the end: Local resentment at the huge influx of auslanders telling them how to vote. Local irritation with the sheer number of robocalls everybody on the voting rolls was receiving. The district’s largest paper’s enthusiastic endorsement of Dede. The fact that some number of voters voted for her absentee before she dropped out. The fact that she endorsed Owens.

    Jenn, let me know if you find any reputable analysts who think that had Hoffman run as the GOP nominee from the git-go, that he would have had any problems winning. Frankly, I haven’t found any pushing that line.

    • jenn1964 permalink*
      November 4, 2009 8:24 pm

      I haven’t been looking really. I am curious what the source for historically GOP district is? I looked it up on Wikipedia (yeah, yeah I know but sometimes it’s the source you have) and it doesn’t look that historically GOP to me.

    • jenn1964 permalink*
      November 4, 2009 8:39 pm

      Also look at the ACU ratings for Boehert and McHugh 32 and 68%. (McCain was considered too liberal with an 80 something.) I don’t see how that translates into voters traditionally electing conservatives in that district.

  5. Portlandic permalink
    November 6, 2009 7:10 am

    OK. Here’s how it works.

    Hoffman wasn’t a blip on the GOP radar when the matter started, so genes’ assessment is off. The local county GOP chairs sat down to guess who would most likely win, given the timing and the purple constituency, and picked Scozzafava. They didn’t pick Hoffman.

    However, NY is a Strange Beast. It’s had an indy Conservative Party for a while (Wm. F. Buckley, Jr., was on their ticket once), and that’s where Hoffman came from. He was outside the district, and did not know the district issues. Folks want constituent service from their congresscritter, and the deer-in-the-headlights-look Hoffman gave when asked about local issues showed he was unlikely to pick the right staff to provide quality constituent service.

    Folks outside the state tried to push the constituency farther than it would got, and the resulting backlash shows you can’t teabag a know-nothing, unprepared, carpetbagging ideologue into office in Upstate NY, the home of Tammany Hall.

    My takeaway messages: 1) No carpetbagging. Your candidate MUST be fully prepared, and not try to skateboard in on ideology. 2) You can run a social conservative in a solid red state, but the best you can do in a purple state is a fiscal conservative. And, since I lean small-l-libertarian anyway, I prefer to chock gummint off at the roots with the checkbook rather than have it tell us what we can do in the bedroom, and is that so bad, folks?

    • jenn1964 permalink*
      November 6, 2009 3:19 pm

      That’s kind of the way I am seeing it too. Scozzafava would have been a disaster, no doubt about it, but she didn’t just appear out of thin air. If Hoffman had just run on his own as a Republican without the outside influence that was exerted on his behalf (in other words a normal special election with Hoffman instead of Scozzafava) I am not convinced he would have done as well as he did. I am not real convinced he can win it next year either. The last 4 reps from that district have been liberal.

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