NY-23 Analysis

As you’ve probably heard by now, the official Republican nominee in the NY-23 special election, Dede Scozzafava, is dropping out of the race. A large number of national conservative figures have lined up behind Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, and Scozzafava was lagging in third place. Under the circumstances, dropping out seems like a sensible choice. This election and the NJ gubernatorial are both reminders that it would probably make more sense to use an IRV/STV system in our elections. As for analysis of what this means in the real world, I’ll turn to Dave Weigel:

The best news for Owens in the Siena Poll might be the popularity of President Obama — his approval is at 59 percent in this district, the highest it’s been during the whole campaign. If Hoffman maintains his advantage with independents and Republicans and gets his excited activists — who are really walking on air today — to turn out the vote, he has a clear path to victory. The Democratic response is obvious — define Hoffman as a creature of the far right, max out their base turnout with the help of unions — and will be aided by a high-profile Monday campaign appearance from Vice President Joe Biden.

Of course, the fate of one congressional district that Republicans have held for more than a century might be less meaningful, in the long run, than the victory conservative activists have scored over their party’s establishment. Would-be Republican leaders such as Newt Gingrich, and to a lesser extent Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, have done themselves some damage by not getting on Hoffman’s bandwagon when it counted. Gingrich, in particular, who appeared on Fox News to make the case for Scozzafava, has quickly become a ridiculed figure among Tea Party activists.

It’s worth keeping in mind Andrew Gelman’s point that though Scozzafava was a moderate by national GOP standards she was in the more conservative half of her caucus in New York.