Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Live-blogging the 2011 NY-26 special election

Okay, let's do some live-blogging -- with American Idol in the background (not my choice, I'd rather have the Jays-Yanks game on, though I admit I'm also interested in how Hines Ward does on Dancing With the Stars).

8:34 pm: The Buffalo News is the place to go for election coverage tonight. The national media are all over this story, of course, but it's good to get the local perspective. And I say that as a Torontonian -- Buffalo is local to us. And the News has a running blog right on its main page. (I've submitted a couple of questions/comments.)

8:36 pm: Jon Chait notes that the Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, isn't really playing the spoiler. He's running on an economic populism platform, "emphasizing economic protectionism." In other words, he's running on the Ross Perot platform, and the numbers show he has support across the spectrum -- leaning to the right but not so much that all of his supporters would vote Republican were he not in the race. What this means is that Hochul (pictured here), the Democrat, is doing astoundingly well to have been up in the polls. It's not exactly a Hochul-Corwin race, but it's close to that, which means the Democrat and Republicans are on fairly even terms. And the Democrat, in this highly Republican district, appears to be ahead. (Though of course we'll have to see what the actual results are.)

8:41 pm: What to watch, according to Politico. This afternoon, Richard Barry, my friend and associate editor of this humble blog, said that his gut was telling him Corwin would win. He usually knows what he's talking about, and his political instincts are generally on the mark. Needless to say, though, I hope he's horribly wrong.

8:42 pm: In other words, the Republican spin, which is already that a Corwin loss would be because Davis, is simply wrong (and, of course, dishonest).

8:48 pm: I continue to contend that this is a significant election (even if some pundits are being rather more cautious). Maybe not a perfect harbinger of things to come but at least an indicator of where things might be headed in 2012. It's also not simply a referendum on the Republicans' right-wing agenda, and specifically Ryan's budget (and anti-Medicare) plan, but that's certainly part of it, and what's abundantly clear is that voters are rejecting it. The Democrats will no doubt continue to press the issue and tie Republicans to the plan, while Republicans will be split between those who demand that the plan be party orthodoxy from which deviation/dissent is not tolerated (as we saw recently with Gingrich) and those who, looking at the polls and thinking of their electoral chances (and careers) run away from it.

8:52 pm: I read earlier that turnout seems to be very good today. It'll be interesting to see the numbers, but high turnout should favour Hochul (i.e., change, which generally attracts more enthusiasm than the status quo). 

8:58 pm: Alright, polls close in two minutes... 

8:59 pm: Uh-oh. The News, on its running blog, is reporting high turnout in Republican-heavy rural counties and low turnout in Democratic-leaning urban/suburban counties like Erie and Niagara. Not good.

9:00 pm: Even if so much of this vote is about the unpopularity of the Ryan plan, it's telling that Hochul has been presenting herself as an independent. That's what you have to do in such a Republican district. 

9:02 pm: Awfully interesting that Corwin, according to the News, "this afternoon obtained a court order from State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia barring a certification of a winner in the special 26th Congressional District race pending a show-cause hearing before him later this week." What Corwin and the Republicans certainly don't want is for Hochul to be declared the winner of what is anticipated to be a close vote. A spokesman for Corwin said that "we want to make sure that every legal vote is counted fairly and accurately," but I wonder, is there really any good reason for this? I'm suspicious.

9:18 pm: I love Hines Ward.

9:19 pm: Early returns coming in. Nothing much to report. Results should start coming in more quickly around 9:30. 

9:23 pm: In the end, given low turnout generally, this could all come down to GOTV. And Corwin certainly had something of an advantage in a heavily Republican district. 

9:24 pm: Yes, Ms. Corwin, you made some major missteps. But the problem isn't just that you didn't effectively address the Medicare issue early on, it's that you're a Republican who supports the party's unpopular budget agenda. And you're running at a time when the Republican name is toxic.

9:27 pm: 14 percent of precincts reporting, Hochul up 46-43 over Corwin. For what it's worth this early on.

9:32 pm: From the News: "The theme to Rocky is playing here at Corwin headquarters. Some might consider a song about underdogs an odd choice for a Republican running in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 27,000 voters." Odd indeed. 

9:37 pm: A third of the way through. With 33 percent reporting, it's 48-42 for Hochul. 

9:42 pm: Looks like results will come in slowly. Might not know much until 11. 

9:48 pm: Although we're already up to 57 percent reporting. 47-43 for Hochul. 

Richard K. Barry: "I see that Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has joined the other GOP senator from Maine Susan Collins and Mass GOP senator Scott Brown in saying she will vote against the Ryan budget plan. No matter what happens tonight in the NY-26th, a lot of Republicans are going to be looking for ways to step away from these destructive Medicare measures."

Richard K. Barry: "New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Bill Clinton did robocalls into the NY-26. I really wonder if those things have any impact. Would it really matter to me if Bill Clinton's voice was on my answering machine? Probably not." 

10:04 pm: Now it's just the waiting game...

Richard K. Barry: "Numbers look good for Hochul but it's always hard to know how things are going without knowing which precincts have reported. Jack Davis is at 8%. Win or lose this is a terrible night for Republicans. No way to paint this as anything other than what it is, a referendum on the Ryan budget plan. Just called for Hochul.

10:05 pm: Well, no more waiting. It has indeed been called, by the AP and MSNBC and I assume shortly everyone else.


10:06 pm: Honestly, how incredible is this? Think back to last November. The Republicans took back the House, reduced the Dems' majority in the Senate, and looked like they had all the momentum, with Obama and the Democrats clearly on the defensive. And then... The Democrats pulled out a few victories during the lame-duck period, including DADT repeal, and Obama seemed to emerge virtually unscathed even after calling the election a shellacking. Well, look where we are now!

Sure, a number of factors went into Hochul's victory, but, again, a lot of it had to do with the Ryan plan and, more broadly, the Republicans right-wing agenda. That's what Republicans were touting. That's what they were making so public. That's what they wanted to define them. Well, it failed -- once people learned about it, they recoiled. And in this heavily Republican district in Western New York, a Democrat, helped a little bit but not much by a Tea Party challenger taking votes away from the Republican, has swept to victory.

And, it would appear, a fairly decisive victory. With 83 percent reporting, Hochul is up 48-43. Davis is at 8 percent, and so has more support than the difference between Hochul and Corwin, but, again, from what the polls were saying it's not like all of Davis's supporters would have voted Republican. In other words, even in a straight Democrat-Republican race, Hochul would likely have prevailed.

Richard K. Barry is ecstatic. As am I. Awesome!!!

10:20 pm: Okay, well, I guess that's it for us tonight. Hochul should be giving her victory speech shortly. Thanks for being here. It was a fun few hours that ended extremely well.

Take care, everyone.

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