The bombshell news this afternoon is that Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava has withdrawn from the New York 23rd district congressional race, which makes the teabagger candidate, Doug Hoffman, the favorite. Conventional wisdom said she and Hoffman were splitting the Republican vote and possibly giving the district to the Democrat, Bill Owens. With Scozzafava gone, conventional wisdom says Hoffman ought to be a clear winner. “Republicans catch a big break” says Chuck Todd.
Nate Silver argues that the picture is murkier, and that Scozzafava supporters may not move toward Hoffman.
The reality is that a lot of Scozzafava’s ex-supporters, many of whom don’t like either Hoffman or Owens, simply won’t vote. And some of them will still wind up casting their ballots for Scozzafava undaunted, as she’ll still appear on the ballot and may have made herself something of a sympathetic figure. … only 15 percent of Scozzafava’s voters had a favorable view of Hoffman, so they aren’t going to come over easily, if at all.
Hoffman would still have to be considered the likely winner, Nate says, but it’s likely to be closer than people think.
In an earlier post, Nate said that the polls suggested much of Hoffman’s support was coming from people who don’t normally vote, and since special elections tend to be low turn-out affairs, Hoffman’s voters might be more motivated to turn out on Tuesday — it’s for the teabagging cause, after all. I don’t know the district at all, so I’m making no predictions about the outcome.
I will say, however, that this shows us how much Republican party officials have lost control of their own party.
The New Jersey governor’s race between Corzine and Christie is messy, also. The closeness of the race, IMO, reflects general disappointment with Corzine. But Christie may be too right-wing for the state as a whole. Parts of New Jersey are quite conservative, but the more populated counties hugging the northeastern part of the state — the ones closest to Manhattan — don’t like extreme right-wingers. Those counties will elect Republicans who can pass themselves off as being reasonably moderate, but in a choice between a right-winger and just about any sort of Democrat they will vote for the Democrat. Anything is possible, but I will be surprised if Corzine loses.