NY-23 Across America

What follows may be akin to one of those crazy ideas Dick Morris used to come up with in the Clinton White House, only one in ten of which turned out to be workable -- but when they worked, oh man, did they work.

The key fact that sticks out in my mind about Doug Hoffman's incredible momentum in NY-23 is that his election would not have been possible had he been the Republican nominee. The fact that we may be about to elect a non-squish from New York has everything to do with the fact that he is running as a third-party independent, and not a Republican (even if the Conservative Party is an auxiliary of the Republicans in most elections).

Hoffman as a Republican would have been too obvious a target and the subject of a relentless barrage of negative TV, websites, mail, and phones branding him as outside the mainstream, anti-choice, anti-worker, etc. But politically, Hoffman has managed to avoid all that until five days out, when it's now clear he's the frontrunner. And as Chris Cillizza points out this morning, Hoffman's success in the polls is built on the back among strong support among independents and (primarily) not Republican regulars disgusted at Scozzafava.

This got me thinking: How many points is an Independent party label worth, assuming you're able to vie for Republican votes in a general election? 5? 10? We know that in races with a plausible third party, that candidate automatically tends to earn more independent and moderate support even if they are ideologically indistinguishable from a Republican (Hoffman) or a Democrat (Chris Daggett in New Jersey).

We also know from Daggett's run in a strong-party, machine state that American politics is entering a phase of third party strength which we last saw in the early '90s with Ross Perot and culminating in the Republican Revolution of '94.

This led me to tweet the following this morning:

Brainstorm: what if Republicans were to withdraw from a series of hot Congressional races and run as conservative independents a la #ny23?

I am not one to believe that a situation exactly like Hoffman's is recreatable across the spectrum. Certainly, we would not want to have to take out every slightly wobbly Republican nominee (Scozzafava's problem was that she was very wobbly) with a third party conservative. With 435 House races on the ballot in 2010, the conservative movement won't have the energy to concentrate its Death Star gamma ray on hapless local establishments in every district.

But what if it were to happen peacefully? Or as a concerted strategy to gain votes?

What if you were to have promising Republican candidates running in Democratic-lean seats say, a few months out from the election, "Let me tell you something. I'm just as sick and tired of the Republicans as I am of the Democrats. So, from this moment forward, I'm running as a common-sense, Independent conservative for Congress."

From one perspective, this would not be helpful to efforts to tie the Republican brand to a broader sense of popular disgust at the Obama/Pelosi overreach. On the other hand, it might be a way for conservatives to invade the center, and thus control the high ground politically.

If you're a party person, don't dismiss this just yet. Say you're the NRCC and you haven't found a good recruit against a vulnerable House Democrat. Say the Republican nominee is a joke, or the incumbent is unopposed. Three months out, you go to your star recruit who turned you down a year ago and ask him to run as an independent. It's a three month campaign as opposed to an 18-month campaign. They don't have to quit their law practice or small business. They enter in the last few miles of the race, and you put serious pressure on the joke nominee to step aside, or put out word through local media and talk radio that this is the guy.

Now, I know one could raise myriad issues here. Ballot access for one. The reflexive aversion to third parties. The relative infrequency of unchallenged vulnerable Democrats, especially because 2010 won't be 2008 or 2006. And the prospect of bloody intra-party battles after the nomination has been settled.

All of these risks are arrayed against a few salient facts. First, the rising disgust at incumbent politicians that will play out over the next couple of years, accompanied by a "pox on both your houses" sentiment. Second, a proven history of entire party blocs picking up and moving to third parties when they need to (NY-23, or Joe Lieberman's 2006 re-election). There are two possibilities for an ideological third party candidate -- they can either flop and pose no serious threat (which happens the vast majority of the time because the candidates are nobodies) or dominate (if they are credible).

In a handful of races, perhaps in places where we can't win with the Republican label alone, it might be more useful for the general election to be a strong Independent versus a Democrat rather than a Republican versus a Democrat. At one extreme of the Cook PVI, let's stipulate that the general election against Charlie Rangel was waged with a Puerto Rican small business owner running on the No More Corrupt Politicians Party line with behind the scenes, logistical support from the GOP. At a minimum, that person would stand a better chance than a Republican in that district.

I'm a strong party guy, but I also believe in Sun Tzu's maxim that you do the unexpected to throw your opponent off balance. Strategically unleashing a swarm of conservative independents may be one such strategy for 2010.

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Comments

Sarah Palin picked up on this about six months ago.

Peggy Noonan published a column about this today. The fact is, the "liberal moment" has passed as the voters have found out that it was an excuse for the Washington Democrats, led by Obama, Pelosi, Frank, and Reid, to go on a spending rampage that makes George W. Bush look as the second coming of Pericles.

But that doesn't mean that voters trust the Clown Shoes Party. That would be us, the GOP. Palin figured that out. So did other, smart Conservatives. That's what the Left doesn't get yet. They will, much to their sorrow. They are still in their circular conversation mode, convinced that talking points, jacked up polling,  and Soros money will save them from popular anger. 

This tactic can be duplicated, but only to a point. Not where it becomes parody. What Palin figured out was that the Republican Party had to undergo a revolution from within.

 

Hmmm...

First, you're shy on "this would not be helpful to efforts to tie the Republican brand to a broader sense of popular disgust at the Obama/Pelosi overreach".  The Obama/Pelosi "overreach" pales in comparison to the Bush overreach, and voters haven't forgotten that.  In fact, they've tied the Republican brand to it.  No one, and I mean no one, polls lower than Republicans at this point.  (But don't let the facts get in your way in your specious attempts to blame our economic troubles on the current Administration).

Which leads to the second point.  Your maneuvering here seems little more than a slithery way around actually rebuilding your party with good people and good ideas.  The electorate will see that, as well.  You need to concentrate on digging out of hole, not finding a smoke and mirrors way of appearing to be above board.  Sure, it's smart political strategy - I appreciate it on a pure political gamesmanship level.  But in this case it'll be seen as little more than "strategery," and eight years of that was more than enough, thank you.

So what you're saying is...

... "Please please please let everyone continue to believe that the mess was caused by Conservatives instead of the Progressive policies (with Republican help) of the last 100 years."

It will take a while, but eventually people are going to realize that the Progressive's expansion of Government into the private sector (housing/mortgage and now Health Care) ARE the problem.

It's already happening.

Nice try, but amongst other evidence...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125694507086819833.html wherein it's demonstrated that Commercial Real Estate mortgages, which have no government involvement similar to homebuyer mortgages, are failing at a rate of 55%.  In case you were unaware, that's a much higher fail rate than the highly regulated, hands-on government involved rate for homeowner mortgages.

And it's already well known that government supported health insurance outperforms private insurance in every single instance, micro and macro, including, but not limited to:  Massachusetts, U.S. (Medicare/caid, and even VA, which if fully socialized!), most European nations, Australia, Canada, etc...

Doug Hoffman is simply the best candidate

We should not mistake that simple point. Why the best? As a conservative, I have a POV on that, but even objectively, we can see a clear and huge need for FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY in Washington. Hoffman is the tonic for a Congress that has gone for stimulus after stimulus to the point of breaking the bank.

NY-23 would have been a lot less interesting had they picked Hoffman as the GOP candidate, and Hoffman wouldnt be getting all kinds of high-profile support from independent-minded conservatives ... but  in all likelihood, he'd be leading the Dem easily in this R-leaning district.

The real story there is the abject lesson the operatives (who keep FAILING to support viable, good conservatives, yet go out of their way to support feeble, weak and no-good RINO/liberals with R labels) and the moderate wing nees to take back for 2010 - LET THE CONSERVATIVES LEAD. If there is any lesson for the GOP it is this: YOUR 2010 NOMINEES BETTER BE FISCAL CONSERVATIVES.

Result - Dump Crist, support Rubio. There are other cases, but any 'pro-stimulus' or 'pro-cap-and-trade' or 'pro-health-care mandates' candidates are OFF THE LIST.

Romney? Off the list (Mandates)

Newt? Off the list (Bad call on Dede)

... we really are left with Sarah Palin as capturing the Tea Party / conservative indepedent zeitgeist better than anyone else. No telling if it will last until 2012 ....

Any intention of re-creating this? Well dont count chickens before they hatch - let Hoffman win first before you annoint this a template of anything. If Owens wins, this will be a template of "united we stand, divided we fall."

Chris Daggett OTOH is a Corzine-appointed Democrat who apparently cant find anything bad to say about Corzine, even though 70% of voters in new jersey are disgusted with the corruption, high taxes and lack of accountability in NJ at multiple levels. Daggett is running as a foil and a plant to draw support from Christie, beaten up a bit by Corzine's negative attack ads, and running to the right ... The main point of his candidacy ( and the reason Star ledger endorsed him) is that it keeps the Democrats in power.  Anyone who falls for that fell off a turnip truck on the Garden State parkway.... Will New Jersey dump a wall street multimillionaire (Corzine)?  We shall see.

 

It's hard to believe that

It's hard to believe that Hoffman is a tonic for Congress given that he fell apart in front of the editorial board of the Watertown Daily News, but at least he's a vote, I guess.  Still, if he can't stand up to the withering heat of the local editorial board, he's not likely to become any sort of congressional leader on the withering heat of the national stage.

Conservatives are polling

Conservatives are polling better than Republicans because Republicans are running RINOs.

Figure it out already.  The Republicans need to move Right, not to the Left.  And this blog is one advocating dumping the Conservatives, when they cleaned your RINO clock in New York State for God's sake!  And using the EVEN MORE GHASTLY (by you and Frum's pov) Conservative label. 

Third-Party Candidates are surging

from politico.com:Independents making an impact

David Ryon, a Ron Paul acolyte running against Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), is trying to pull a Doug Hoffman in Ohio. Ryon announced today that he’s dropping out of the Republican primary, where he’d been challenging GOP favorite Steve Stivers, to run as a Constitution Party candidate. Ryon, who opposes abortion rights, said he can’t support Stivers because of the state senator’s pro-choice voting record. "The lines between the two major parties have become blurred to the point they represent the left and right wings of the same party," Ryon told the Columbus Dispatch in his announcement. Ryon remains a long-shot candidate with little public support, but could play a decisive role in a tight general election rematch between Kilroy and Stivers. Kilroy’s narrow victory over Stivers last year was aided by the presence of two conservative third-party candidates on the ballot, who took a combined nine percent of the vote. Third-party candidates are already making their presence felt in two critical off-year elections in New Jersey and New York. And with many conservatives distancing themselves from the Republican establishment, as Ben noted yesterday, don’t be surprised to see more conservative candidates ditching the party line to run as independents...

The article points out there were 3rd parties last time in OH 15

Hope Kilroy worked for them. Maybe there's something as "off" about Stivers as Scozzafava, but I've got no idea what that would be.

Now for someone who really deserves someone from his party running to his right as an independent, ask MA Governor Deval Patrick how Tim Cahill is doing?  

Don't discount the possibility we will see more Lieberman style candidates in the Blue States.  

As a Vice Chairman of the New York State Conservative Party

In the first poll in NY 23 the Conservative Party out polled all other parties. Like in the rest of the country the Republican brand is tainted and unpopular. Also like in the rest of the country there are many disaffected conservative voters looking for a home.

This benchmark poll also showed that voters were very right to life, opposed to gay marraige, card check, and taxes. If Hoffman had been the candidate of the Republican and Conservative parties he would have won with 55% of the vote.

On Friday a leading national Republican asked me what the Republican can do to stop a conservative third party movement. I said stop endorsing liberals like Dede and Crist and keep earning credits for opposing Obama on policy.

I wouldn't equate Crist with DeDe

Crist is pro-life, opposes gay marriage, and earned an "A" from the CATO institute for his record as governor.  He's certainly a moderate in some ways, but calling him a liberal is just laughable. 

Crist is not Dede but...

Crist embraced Obama's stimulus package. The biggest government boondoggle in history. He endorsed Califonia style environmental policy: His version of cap and trade. His SupremeCourt appointee is not a conservative. And taxes are his friend. Crist is clearly old school Republican.Rubio is a conservative ad proud of it.

Another Silly Post from Ruffini

The whole Scozzafava thing was pretty much an aberration.  You had the Republican candidate chosen by the "party elders" instead of a regular primary.  Republican voters had no say in the chose.  You also had an extremely liberal republican on social issues, and who was a moderate at best on economic issues. 

This created an extremely good environment for Hoffman and the conservative grassroots to pounce on the liberal Republican establishment.  I doubt this envrironment can be replicated in 2010 or any future election.

Patrick should just join RedState, he's level of thinking is about at that level.  

Sadly, Scozzafa Is not an abberation in NY

The Republican party is littered with Dede type candidates. That is why a Conservative Party exists. Fortunately, the Republican experiment of running Democrat lite candidates has led to the retirement of many and created opportunities for new faces. The few new faces I have met are good conservatives. Lets hope more emerge.

The base has tasted RINO blood in NY-23

It is too early and too optimistic to seek lessons for future battles for Democratic seats from what has happened in NY-23. The news here is the ongoing revolt by the conservative GOP base against the GOP leadership.

Conservatives have tasted RINO blood in NY-23. Expect to see the activist base running a lot more RINOs out of the party between now and 2012. Only then will they turn their attention to shaping a conservative message that can compete for a majority of the electorate.

Hooray!!!

Wishing you all the best at driving all the "RINO"s out of the party.  Good luck winning elections!

Let me get this straight

Here's what happened in NY 23:

1- the right spent definitely more than the left and it seems a LOT more

2- the national party machinery and various nominal right wing luminaries were embarrassed (RNC, NRCC, Newt, Steele, etc.)

3- the local republicans not only passed over the eventual conservative party standard bearer but said  a number of unkind things about him and the GOP candidate dropped out and endorsed the Dem

4- the best polling to date shows either a tie or a 5-7% lead for the conservative party candidate, this in a county that the GOP often wins by 2-1

5- the conservative candidate is seen as an outsider being pushed on the district by outsiders (witness the overwhelming amount of hoffman's funds that come out of state and the candidates lack of living in the district or knowledge of the district)

 

And this is something you want to try elsewhere?  Where exactly is the upside for you?  Yes you may get a single conservative vote in the house for one year but at a ridiculous cost in terms of money, further damaging the GOP brand, and further shrinking the party.  And you might just lose the seat entirely!  This takes the term pyrrhic victory to emphatic levels not seen before by man.