The NY-20-as-Republican-Stronghold Myth

Democrats have regrettably been winning the narrative battle about the broader meaning of the current NY-20 tie, arguing that a district that with a significant Republican registration advantage and where Republican Jim Tedisco led by double digits only a few weeks ago should have meant the GOP was a lock for a pickup.

They should be reading Nate Silver on this count. He reminds us that NY-20 is a district Obama won by a slim 3 point margin, roughly four points less than his national victory. And it's a place where Republican Sandy Treadwell was not competitive at all against Kristen Gillibrand last November, despite spending $5 million of his own money -- another reason why we called out blind recruitment of self-funders by the Hill committees in the Rebuild plan.

At the end of the day, NY-20 is a Cook PVI R+3 seat -- Silver suggests it's R+2 in the current Congress. With the current Democratic lean in the House, this is essentially a swing seat, and quite possibly the definition of a pure tossup district in the 111th Congress. He posts this chart of how seats between PVI R+1 and R+4 voted in November:

Paradoxically, R+3 seats like NY-20 elected 8 Democrats and 5 Republicans last November. So much for being a Republican lock, especially with the blue undercurrents in the region.

What about the registration advantage? There are a number of regions throughout the country that are ancestrally Republican or Democratic that sport huge one-party registration leads and where the leading party has a lock on all the local offices. Many -- if not most -- areas in the Deep South still have many more Democrats on the rolls than Republicans. The most lopsided Bush/McCain margins in Florida came in the rural north Florida counties with the greatest Democratic registration advantage. On the flip side, Republicans appear much stronger places like upstate New York and rural New England than they actually are because these are traditionally Republican areas that have only recently started voting Democratic for federal offices with a shift driven largely by independents and moderate Republicans.

What these areas of Republican-in-Name-Only and Democrat-in-Name-Only strength all have in common is that they are generally rural areas with little turnover in population. If you're an older voter who has used been used to voting one way for 30 or 40 years, it's easier to rationalize your change in parties as "I didn't leave the party, it left me" rather than change your party registration outright. So there are a lot of Republicans on the rolls who may no longer vote that way. This may not be the case in fast growing metropolitan/exurban areas where political shifts are fueled by demographics and migration (e.g. Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William in Virginia).

As for the polls, Jim Tedisco began the race with vastly more name ID than Scott Murphy, who had the money to be competitive. And when a race gets nationalized with tons of earned media, with two relatively strong candidates running, it's hard to avoid a regression toward the mean, in this case, a close race to match NY-20's tossup status nationally.

Note: I've been doing some work for Tedisco.

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Go there and see

Have you been to the Adirondacks (NY-20)?  It is predominantly Republican.  If they vote for a Democrat, they say something like: "I'm a Republican but I just can't vote for this one because ...". 

With strict party unity in Washington, people know that a vote for a decent man like Tedisco really is a vote for the slime wing -- Limbaugh & Cantor & the rest.  Tedisco said he could work with Obama, but voters know that's impossible.

Spin away

I realize that you are embarassed that you only managed to a statistical tie, but then again you guys were the ones who choose to tout this a as a referendum on Obama.

Look at the Congressional results before Gillibrand came on the scene and tell me again how that 70K lead in voter registrations is illusory:

Congressional races in NY-20. 

  • 2008
  • D 61.8
  • R 38.2
  • 2006
  • D 53.1
  • R 46.9
  • 2004
  • R 65.8
  • D 33.7
  • 2002
  • R 73.3
  • D 24.0
  • 2000
  • R 57.6
  • D 40.1
  • 1998
  • R 58.3
  • D 38.8
  • 1996
  • R 57.1
  • D 37.6


Part true

In recent years, this has been a swing seat.  Tedisco actually did slightly better than Republicans have done in the past 10 years.

Problem is, Upstate NY used to be a Republican stronghold.  Seats like NY-20 were ancestrally GOP.  Now they're not.  Losing seats like this and neighboring seats is part of the reason we are a minority party right now.

NY 20

I see neither Patrick nor anyone here recalls the circumstances of GiIlebrand's 2006 win here.

The Election in 2006 was completely skewed by the news of the day:  Incumbent GOP Congressman John Sweeney, one of the GOP thugs flown into Miami-Dade to hammer on the glass and shut down the Bush-Gore recount, made news across the district in October 2006 when his wife called in Police for help as the victim of domestic abuse by Sweeney.

To base any kind of regressive or predictive analysis of NY-20 voters without taking into account the total picture surrounding the last Election is just plain dumb.

In addition, Sweeney's record was way over the top.  CREW named him as one of the most corrupt 20 in Congress, he had Abramoff lobbyist issues, his wife was even on his payroll.  In 2001, he drove his Jeep into a pole holding the main power lines to the Willard ski resort, knocking out the resort and dozens of homes.  Somehow, the State Trooper investigating the incident did not issue any summonses or charges, and never gave Sweeney a breathalizer.  

I read Silver's analysis saying at best this was always going to be a tossup, maybe a slight edge to Tedisco.  He never looked at how awful Sweeney was either. I think he was arrested on a DWI yesterday, his second in 18 months. In 2008, Gillebrand was a popular incumbent in a Democratic Party year.

Regardless of how you try and spin this, Patrick, it is a black eye for the GOP.  A major one, given the amount of investment and effort expended by the GOP at the local, State, and National level. 

I have still not seen a final number for how many GOP dollars are going to go down the rathole here, but if the reports I read are anywheres near accurate, it could well top 4 million.

I hope you get some of them before they're gone.

Jim, I'm going to Agree with You

But not for your own partisan reasons.

Tedisco is a good candidate. He'll win this race. You're argument consists of partisan red meat Rethuglican-baiting, which, unfortunately for you, has passed it's Sell-By date. It's not that people naturally hate Republicans which is what you would have us believe.  Rather, people were disgusted with the Crony Capitalism and deficit spending of the Bush Administration and voted out Republicans even in majority Republican districts like NY-20. Your fatal conceit, and I suspect that this illness is widespread among activist Democrats, is in assuming that this condition is permanent. Things are already changing among the electorate. 

Patrick's argument that the majority in registration in NY-20 is relatively meaningless is a howler. However, bear in mind that Gillebrand was popular and ran and held her office as a centrist Democrat. Do not be surprised if she is reeelected to that Senate Seat. She's a perfect foil to the obnoxious Senior Senator, who probably has mucho skeletons he'd like to hide. Gillebrand's endorsement helped Murphy in a big way, and helped his Name Rec and probably helped give him a temporary lead in the last week. 

Still and all, the galactic incompetence of the NRCC was on display during the Campaign. Their commercials didn't accentuate what Tedisco would do for the District, and their negative ads reeked of 2004. People lost sight of who Joe Tedisco was and why he should be the next Congressman from NY-20. Tedisco took back his campaign just in time, it appears. He was saved by Grassroots Republicans who gave at this site, at Redstate, and who worked the District. He wasn't saved by the feckless NRCC and the A$$clown RNC.

One of the reasons that sites like the Next Right sprung up was because of the otherworldliness and political ineptitude of the RNC. Republicans will be fine in the future because the Grass Roots is in revolt from the Washington G.O.P. and wants to drive the moneylenders from the temple. Democrats don't get this, so eager are they to anoint our leadership. Tedisco, should he win, and I believe he will, will owe his victory to the grass roots, as Goldwater used the grassroots to secure his nomination in 1964. That's important to understand for Republicans-the way forward is to operate independently of the National Party and embrace a populist, grass-roots agenda.

Parties change. Your anticipation of Democratic domination for the next fifty some-odd years assumes the steady state theory of politics that people like Texiera and Judis embrace. It doesn't work that way. "Events happen" as Anthony Eden pointed out to a much younger colleague, and parties change to undermine their opponents. Jay Cost has pointed this out again and again. And so, Republicans go into opposition and insurgency, and Democrats embrace Washington and sound like the Republicans in 2002. Democrats think, "The people will ALWAYS be with us!" It's magical bullsh*t, of course, thought by partisans to convince themselves of the righteousness of their cause. The Obama Administration is full of this kind of thinking, at least at the mid- and lower levels. But it almost never turns out to be the case.

I suspect that with the election of Tedisco, you will see NY-20 and other districts like it return to historic voting patterns, especially as the chickens come home to roost on the cost of Obama's budgets and programs. Democrats are, of course, enthusiastic. But the printing presses are turning this into the most reckless government since Weimar, and Democrats are fools to believe that there will be no consequence for it, or that they can pass it all off on Bush. In addition, the plain people of this country want their President to speak plainly for this country, and stand up for it. Not to prostrate himself before a Saudi King. 

People hold the President in power responsible for what's going on. The day will come when Democrats are going to wish they still had Bush to kick around. 

You cannot see it, you do not know it because Democrats' minds are filled with triumphalist nonsense, but we have arrived at the turn of the tide. 

Thanks for

... agreeing with me, even though we disagree on the way things are going to turn out for Tedisco.

Without those big bucks spent by the national leadership, Tedisco would have lost already.  I have every confidence that your Grass Roots faith and work did turn some voters out, but it was those huge media buys that blanketed the District that got people out to the polls and kept it close.  The Court dealt him a huge setback today, it will open the absentee ballots on Wed, and we will see where we end up.  I think Murphy will prevail in those by 3-400 ballots.  Then it will be too late for the military and overseas ballots, which are much less in number, to come to Tedisco's rescue.

I'll tell you what, though, you are really barking up the wrong tree if you think that Progressives and Democrats feel "triumphalist".  I don't know a single Dem who does not feel like we have a long, long way to go:  We understand and accept that electing Obama is just the beginning.  We still have a load of Blue Dog DINO's like Bayh and Lincoln who will gum up the agenda we want Obama to follow for petty, selfish reasons.

Just today, Blanche Lincoln caved in to Wal-mart and decided she could not get behind EFCA, stabbing Obama and every Dem in the back on an important bill, knowing full well what the implications are for that piece of legislation without her support, and waiting until AFTER Joe Biden raised 800K for her last week before she dropped the turd.

Winning NY-20 is a major deal for us, but we have no illusions about Scott Murphy.  He will be as much a DINO as Gillebrand, who is up to her ears in special-interest and tobacco and lawyer money, and who has already voted against Obama in the stimulus and recovery and budget bills.

But the thing is, people now take notice.  Maybe in 2000 she could have gotten away with that.  Now, there is no way she is winning a race for the Senate in NY.  The NY metro area has between 1/3 and 1/2 of all voters in the state, and about 2/3 of those always vote Dem.  She will win her NY-20 District, but Metro NYC voters will demand a lot more from the Senator they elect.

And Lincoln?  Well, I hope we deal with her appropriately when the time comes.

This is that triumphalism thing mentioned by section9.

The EFCA is a loser. There's a recent Gallup poll that suggests lukewarm support for the general idea of strengthening unions:

That first question of the poll completely missed the point. The center is with the right on EFCA. They have concerns about the loss of a secret ballot, not a desire to weaken unions.

Keep reading the poll: the more people know about EFCA, the more likely they are to oppose it.

Republican registration edge is largely a function of NY state

politics.  The split in NY state legislative politics is upstate (R)-downstate (D).  Last fall, the D's  took control (barely) of the state senate for the 1st time in 30 years. 

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