Sunday, November 1, 2009

third party candidate may win seat in Congress

According to PPP, their weekend polling suggests that in Tuesday's special US Congress election, a New York district near the Canadian border that has elected only Republicans since the Civil War in most of its territory is about to break that trend.

By electing the Conservative Party of New York's candidate.

Newt Gingrich, who intially endorsed the Republican Dede Scozzafava instead of the Conservative candidate, switched his endorsement to the Conservative Doug Hoffman after Scozzafava withdrew this weekend saying, "she didn't want to be the margin of helping the liberal Democrat win... and I commend her for that commitment to help Doug Hoffman win." Praise for Scozzafava also flowed from Sarah Palin. Yet within hours of these remarks Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat, Bill Owens!

The Conservative vs Republican show down was characterized by some in the media as a primary that played out in the general election because a primary wasn't part of the GOP nomination process that selected Scozzafava. But if that's an accurate characterization, it's difficult to contend that Scozzafava is a team player since her reaction to losing this de facto primary was to endorse the Dem. Also vindicating the Conservatives in their launching of a competing campaign to the Republicans is the fact that both the unions (Scozzafava is married to a union boss) AND social liberals such as pro-choice lobbyists and gay marriage advocates were in the Republican candidate's corner instead of the Democrat's. It's one thing for a Republican to run left of his or her Democratic competitor socially (in fact, I think they should do it more often) or fiscally, but on both social and fiscal grounds? How many on-again off-again GOP volunteers are going to jump on-again for such a candidate? As much as people talk about wanting post-ideological, pragmatic politicians, there is a trade-off between this value and the risk of electing self-promoting candidates and a supporting political establishment that sees its power as an entitlement.

Hoffman is far from what I would consider an ideal candidate. He had a disastrous interview with the editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times and he's likely excessively ideological. But having an ideology has the merit of boosting voter participation. Running as a "movement" liberal or conservative brings in more donations (especially if it catches national attention) and new volunteers. According to PPP, although this New York district voted for Obama, the pool of likely voters this Tuesday went 51 - 43 for McCain last year. Polls conducted in September found Hoffman's support ranging between 16% to 19% but he was over 50% in a poll (by Public Policy Polling) by the end of October, a result that should greatly encourage all dark horse candidates without an established party endorsement.

Another third party candidate who is doing well but is not expected to win is independent Chris Daggett for New Jersey governor. The Wall St Journal has warmed up to Daggett, noting with approval that Daggett has advocated replacing some or most income and property taxes with an expanded sales tax. Daggett has lately been gaining in the polls at the expense of Republican candidate Chris Christie despite Christie's demagogic insistence that Daggett is a tax raiser. Says the WSJ, "Mr. Daggett's appeal has grown because he's offering voters precisely what Mr. Christie isn't: A specific plan for controlling runaway taxes and spending." Writers at David Frum's New Majority have made useful observations in the past like noting the superiority of a VAT over a sales tax, and have again contributed to the analysis by noting that the stumbling Christie campaign in NJ is what the GOP should expect when it doesn't run an idea based campaign.

As for Tuesday's developments back in Edmonton, well, we've got Canada's Youtube-nurtured sensation Justin Bieber at WEM from 4 pm to 7 pm. Your 13 year old daughter may not forgive you if this information is forwarded to her, despite the fact video and photo taking amongst the teenagers of today is so compulsive at least half a dozen clips should appear on Youtube within days. I'm sure the scene will be a picture of restraint, just like his appearances have been elsewhere!


Anonymous said...

The 23rd Congressional district that this election is taking place in last elected a Democrat in 1993 and has regularly elected Democrats before that.

Craig B. Chandler said...

Just shows me that one can hold onto their principles and still win.

Brian said...

Anonymous: what is relevant is who the geographic territory of today's 23rd district have been electing, not who was elected for NY-23 when it covered a different area.