NY-23 And The Slow Death Of The Republican Party

We have some more updates from the special election in NY’s 23rd Congressional district.

First, there’s another poll out showing Democrat Bill Owens beating both Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman:

If the election for Congress were held today, would you vote for Bill Owens, the Democrat, Dede Scozzafava, the Republican, or Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate?

Owens: 35%
Scozzafava: 30%
Hoffman: 23%
Undecided: 12%

Second…

Sarah Palin—America’s favorite quitbull with lipstick— has endorsed Hoffman, though I’m not sure that’s exactly a blessing. Even though NY-23 is traditionally Republican, the district voted for Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin 52% to 47%, meaning that Palin’s endorsement could end up hurting Hoffman.

Third, the Watertown Daily Times provides insight as to why Hoffman lost the GOP nomination to Scozzafava in the first place—apparently, he’s completely unfamiliar with the local issues in NY-23:

When asked about the rooftop highway that could connect Watertown to Plattsburgh, Mr. Hoffman said he was “open to reviewing and studying it.”

When asked about winter navigation on the St. Lawrence Seaway, he took no position. When asked about widening and deeping the Seaway, he again said nothing.

The atmosphere was tense, at times.

Mr. Hoffman said at one point that if we were going to question him, that he needed to know in advance what we were going to ask him about.

That’s not the way it works.

It goes without saying that, if you want to be Congressman, you should be familiar with the issues your constituents care about.

Fourth, Why Dede Scozzafava is so unpalatable to conservatives in the first place?  Why do they hate her so much that they’re backing a long-shot third-party candidate and risking a Democratic victory?

All I find is that Scozzafava is both pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.  But this is New York, where such positions–even among Republicans–aren’t uncommon. And despite Scozzafava’s stances on those two issues, she’s still more conservative than your average New York Republican.

But that’s the GOP for you, demanding ideological purity even if it means they lose election after election.  You think Republicans would have learned their lesson after 2006 and 2008, but they apparently still think they’re losing because they’re not conservative enough.

Any astute political observer will tell you, though, that the opposite is true—Republicans lost because they’re too conservative. Remember, George W. Bush barely made it into office in 2000 and in 2004 he was re-elected by the smallest margin of any re-elected President in modern history. But even though Bush was re-elected by 2.5%, Republicans governed like he had won by 25%.

So conservatives governed according to a mandate they never had. They ended up taking America down a far-right path, and America’s backlash to those right-wing policies is the reason why the Republican Party is such a small minority today.

And look where the GOP stands now—they’ve moved even farther to the right since Obama took office, yet only 20% of Americans now identify themselves as Republican. It doesn’t take a political scientist to see the correlation: the farther right the GOP moves, the more unpopular they become.

In light of that, conservative’s behavior in NY-23 isn’t surprising– once again, they’re pushing the Republican Party so far right they become unelectable. Dede Scozzafava should be the face of the new Republican Party; instead, she has become a symbol of everything wrong with the GOP.

Recent polling shows that conservatives will probably lose NY-23. And, just like in 2006 and 2008, they’ll have nobody but themselves and their right-wing ideological puritans to blame.

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