Two Trends on Election Night

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

Last night's election exhibited two trends: one positive for the country as a whole, and one more ominous for Democrats. Firstly, Americans rejected negative campaigning and extremism - whether it be in Virginia, New Jersey, NY-23. Secondly, the electorate as a whole shifted quite profoundly to the right. This post will focus on the first aspect.

Negative Campaigning and Extremism

In the most-watched races, voters chose the side that espoused moderation and ran a positive message. The Democratic candidates in both Virginia and New Jersey focused on the negative: state congressman Creigh Deeds of Virginia spent most of his time attacking Attorney General Bob McDonnell's college thesis, while Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey launched a barrage of negative ads. Both candidates lost.

There tends to be a myth, commonly repeated by the media, that negative campaigning works. They point to former President George W. Bush, whose Swiftboat ads ensured a 2% victory over Senator John Kerry. The truth, as recent elections show, is more complicated: Senator John McCain, Mr. Deeds, and Mr. Corzine all pinned their hopes on tearing down their opponent and all lost.

The other race featured the victory of moderate politics over extremism. In NY-23,  a Republican-represented district since the Civil War, conservatives sabotaged the moderate Republican candidate in favor of hard-line Doug Hoffman. Fortunately, voters in upstate New York rejected the Glenn Beck nominee and instead chose Democrat Bill Owens, an independent turned Democrat.

Thus the election results enforced a positive trend in politics - one of moderation and positive campaigning focused on the issues, rather than divisive personal attacks. For Democrats like myself, however, the other trend - a rightward shift - is more worrisome. Hopefully it more reflects right-wing anger than the true national mood.

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Scozzafava Drops Campaign in New York 23 Special

Even if this were perhaps foreseeable, it's nevertheless surprising.

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate in the 23rd Congressional District, is suspending her campaign and releasing her supporters.

The state Assemblywoman has not backed either of her two opponents in the race, Doug Hoffman or Bill Owens.

In her statement, Dede Scozzafava cites todays polling from Siena (.pdf) showing her in third place at 20 percent, with Democrat Bill Owens narrowly leading Conservative Doug Hoffman 36 percent to 35 percent ahead of her (the second straight survey in the race to give Owens a 1-point lead over Hoffman).

Chuck Todd says the Republicans caught a break with today's news, but I'm not entirely certain that I agree. For one, Scozzafava will still be on the ballot, and presumably at least some less informed voters (as well as her own remaining diehard supporters) will pull the lever on her behalf rather than for Hoffman, the effective Republican nominee. Second, the Siena poll shows 11 percent of Democrats backing Scozzafava, a group not terribly likely to break for Hoffman (even if Scozzafava's GOP supporters do by and large swing for him). So put me in the camp of Marc Ambinder, Jonathan Martin and others believing half of Scozzafava's supporters could either vote Democratic or not vote on Tuesday -- a situation that would squarely keep this race in the tossup category.

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A Dead Heat in New York 23 Special

Markos tweets the results of the latest Research 2000 polling out of the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district:

Heck, I'll leak them now: Owens 33, Hoffman 32, Scozzafava 21

Democrat Bill Owens leads in the current survey -- as he has in the two most recent nonpartisan surveys in the race -- though well within the margin of error. The positioning of his two competitors, however, has flipped, with the Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman surging into second place as the nominal Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava sinks.

With support for Hoffman growing 9 points over the past week or so, he clearly has the momentum. That said, the race remains very close and still could go either way.

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Democrat Holds Lead in NY-23 Special

Last week we saw the first polling out of the special congressional election in New York's 23rd congressional district -- which has been in Republican hands since the Civil War era -- show the Democratic nominee in the race holding a narrow lead. This morning Research 2000 released its own polling on the race, sponsored by Daily Kos, showing largely the same results.

Dede Scozzafava (R): 30 percent
Bill Owens (D): 35 percent
Doug Hoffman (C): 23 percent

These numbers largely comport with the aforementioned Siena poll, which put Owens up over Scozzafava and Hoffman by a 33 percent to 29 percent to 23 percent spread.  Unless the dynamics of this race significantly change in the last couple weeks of the campaign, this is turning out to be yet another debacle for the Republican Party, which is supposedly on the rebound (even if the voters haven't gotten the memo).

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Democrat Takes Lead in NY-23 Special Election

With the political environment being so good for the Republicans, presumably they'd be leading in the special election race to fill a seat their party vacated in a district that has been sending Republicans to Congress for more than a century. Or maybe not.

Democrat Bill Owens has come from behind to open a slim lead over Republican Dede Scozzafava in the race for the 23rd Congressional District seat, according to an independent poll released today.

If he holds onto his lead, Owens, a political newcomer, would become the first Democrat to represent the rural 11-county district of Northern and Central New York since the Civil War era.

Owens erased a 7 percentage point deficit in the past two weeks and is now the frontrunner with 33 percent of likely voters, the Siena College poll found.

Owens leads Scozzafava by 4 percentage points and Conservative Doug Hoffman by 10 points, according to the poll taken this week by the Siena Research Institute.

Not only has Republican Dede Scozzafava lost her lead, according to Siena polling, Politico reports that she is more or less out of money and virtually without help from the Republican National Committee going into the home stretch.

At some point, if this really is destined to be a great cycle for the Republicans, they have to start winning, right? This poll isn't all roses for the Democrats; the Republican and Conservative party candidates combine to receive a little over 50 percent of the vote -- in line with what the GOP would normally take in this type of a district, but a majority nonetheless. Still, shouldn't a race like this be easy for the Republicans to hold if indeed they are on the verge of retaking the House?

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