• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

On Excessive Moderation

As Steven Taylor notes, the third-party candidacy by Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd congressional district seems to have backfired, delivering a solid Republican seat for generations to Democratic candidate Bill Owens.

While some conservatives like my Twitter pal (and OG blogger) Jayvie Canono have suggested that Republican nominee Dede “Scozzafava would’ve been a vote for the Dems,” one of the iron laws of contemporary politics in the House is that the vast majority of the time, even the most liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats vote with their party.

Would Hoffman have been a more reliable Republican vote than Scozzafava? Probably. But Owens, if he’s anything like the vast majority of his future colleagues, will almost certainly vote with the Democrats more than 90% of the time; even the most “disloyal” Republicans only break from their party around 35% of the time while the vast majority only defect less than 10% of the time. In other words, conservatives have probably traded a reasonably Republican vote in the House for a reliably Democratic one, which in the grand scheme of things is not likely to be smart politics.

(Cross-posted at Signifying Nothing.)

UPDATE (James Joyner):  The Breitbart headline for Valerie Bauman’s AP report sums it up nicely: “Democrat wins House seat in heavily GOP area in NY.”

Related Posts:

About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi.

Comments

  1. [...] Lawrence is closer to my own view: Would Hoffman have been a more reliable Republican vote than Scozzafava? Probably. But Owens, if [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Tlaloc says:

    Redstate used to openly berate talk of “moral” victories as the stuff failures were made of. Now they’re calling Hoffman’s loss by “only” percentage points in a heavily republican victory great news… for conservatives!

    Of course Redstate also used to mock various lefty sites (particularly dkos) for endorsing candidates that always went on to lose. Naturally when the GOPs fortunes nosedived they took RS success rate along.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Tlaloc says:

    I should point out that the hoffman thing is now guaranteed to blow up in conservatives faces (whereas it was merely likely before).

    GOP moderates will be out for blood because, reasonably from their persepctive, the conservatives forced themselves into a race they had no business in, sabotaged the GOP candidate for being moderate, soaked up a ton of cash, humiliated the party organizations, and then promptly handed a previously safe GOP seat to the dems. Oh and after stabbing the moderates in the back the conservatives whined about Scozzafava not thanking them for the shanking.

    Meanwhile the conservatives will be saying that this whole mess was the moderates faults for choosing scozzafava in an undemocratic way and if they would have just really supported the conservative, rather than wasting funds on a woman who viewed conservatives as a bigger enemy than democrats (serious heresy that), the seat would still be in GOP hands.

    It’s a perfect set up to further the GOP civil war that’s been slowly rumbling along. Dems get to watch (from a new cozy congressional seat) their rivals frag themselves and spend lots of money doing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Maggie Mama says:

    I believe Conservatives had every right to participate in the process considering it was just a few individuals who chose Scozzafava rather than having a primary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. sookie says:

    Yes, but the 90% of the time they vote with their party probably doesn’t matter. It’s the 10% that they defect that does.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. sam says:

    I believe Conservatives had every right to participate in the process

    Anybody saying or implying they didn’t?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. [...] HOME|ABOUT|POLICIES|CONTACT|FEEDS|CONTESTS|LINKS « Previous | Home | Republicans Win Big in Local [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. PD Shaw says:

    It was a gamble that almost paid off. As they say, “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    Scozzafava was a traitor to the cause, good riddance, peace out donkey women, wiping another stain off of the GOP will always be a good thing, It’s not power that matters in the end, it’s principles!!!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. [...] even a liberal Republican is much more likely to vote with Republicans on issues than a moderate Democrat. Party loyalty cannot be underestimated [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. JKB says:

    The district might have voted Republican in the past but that doesn’t mean they’d follow the party off a cliff. As it stands, of the three, the centrist won, the lefty dropped out and the conservative didn’t do to bad. What letters they had after their names on the ballot didn’t matter.

    The real lesson here is that the Republicans, especially the national leaders, need to be careful not to put candidates to the left of the Democratic candidate on their ticket.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Maggie Mama says:

    Anybody saying or implying they didn’t?

    Yeah, Sam. Tliloc did:

    GOP moderates will be out for blood because, reasonably from their persepctive, the conservatives forced themselves into a race they had no business in…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Wayne says:

    An unknown third party conservative candidate coming from nowhere in very short period came within inches of beating the two main party candidates. I’ll take that. It is a hell a lot better than having a moderate\liberal Republican win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Wayne says:

    If the GOP and DNC put up liberals for candidates and there is no third party candidate, what is the chance of a conservative winning?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. hpb says:

    delivering a solid Republican seat

    I’m not familiar enough with NY-23 to know the details, but much is being made of it having been represented by an ‘R’ for a hundred years. But was it RINO or conservative?

    That is, where it matters — in voting, did this ‘R’ seat tend to tip in favor of Democrats? I think this is probably the more important thing, but I don’t know if this has been discussed anywhere.

    If anyone has a link or more information on this, I’d appreciate the insights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. hpb says:

    To answer my own question a bit, I did find the previous representative John McHugh described as follows:

    McHugh is a moderate to conservative Republican by national standards, which is typical for Republicans from New York. He has a lifetime rating of 71 from the American Conservative Union.

    But more recently he had ACU ratings of 60 in 2007 and 40 in 2008.

    A Citizens Against Government Waste table I’d messed with a while back rated him at 54%.

    And that “100 years” nugget I’d run across seems a little more confusing with all the redistricting I see here.

    But I’d still be interested if anyone else has more information.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. An Interested Party says:

    So only a fully conservative candidate need apply for Republican nominations to New York Congressional seats? Oh, good luck with that…I guess some people don’t mind if the GOP becomes only a regional party…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Tlaloc says:

    I believe Conservatives had every right to participate in the process considering it was just a few individuals who chose Scozzafava rather than having a primary.

    Hoffman was an outsider (literlly seeing as how he didn’t live in the district and wasn’t chosen by the district party). Not only that but he inserted himself into the race after having been passed by by the GOP as a third party candidate funded almost entirely (as in 95%) by peope out of the district.

    So, uh, yeah I have no problem identifying that as outsiders interfering with a local election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Wayne says:

    Re “So only a fully conservative candidate need apply”

    Using that phony argument again. What a lame repeating of a talking point. No one on the conservative side has said that a person has to be 100% conservative or that we have to agree 100% of the time with a candidate. However having a candidate that is a good deal more conservative than liberal would be nice though.

    Scozzafava was more liberal than the Democrat candidate. Many of the Democrat’s candidates that won last year ran as conservative. Unfortunately they don’t govern that way otherwise I would vote for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Wayne says:

    Tlaloc

    How is that different from the two main parties?

    The DNC or GOP put money and resources into local races with no regard about where the money originated from. Newt and Obama campaign for candidates outside their home district so that is outside influence. The list goes on and on.

    Where is your outrage on them “interfering with a local election”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. An Interested Party says:

    Using that phony argument again.

    Ok, then, exactly how conservative does the Republican candidate have to be? What is the litmus test? To the right of say, John McHugh? Susan Collins? I recently read an interesting statistic…the area of New York and New England now has 51 Congressional districts, of which Republicans represent just 2…conservatism really sells well in the region, eh? As for “interfering in local elections”…it would be nice if the candidate for office was actually from the local district…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Tlaloc says:

    How is that different from the two main parties?

    The DNC or GOP put money and resources into local races with no regard about where the money originated from.

    The RNC and DNC contributed money to a local politician chosen by the local party to run for a local elected position. Hoffman was non-local. He was ultimately selected by a local party but only after being roundly rejected by the local GOP. And his funding was almost entirely from out of state. Seems a pretty bright line difference to me.

    Hoffman would not have been in the race except for outside interference. That’s not true of Scozzafava or Owens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    Ok, then, exactly how conservative does the Republican candidate have to be?

    Um, Pro life, anti communist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Wayne says:

    AIP
    I would say 70% or greater. There is a difference between being Republican and being conservative. NE has been a Democrat strong hold for a long time. I doubt if many of the candidates that the Republicans put up there have been that conservative. Maybe they should give it a try.

    The district was redrawn. Hoffman lives in close proximity. He was not the the Florida Dem rep that lived out of state. The people supporting Hoffman were supporting local politician chosen by the local party to run for a local elected position. DNC and GOP are far more national party then the Conservative party and their money and support came from outside the district.

    The local GOP candidate was wallop by Hoffman in the election. That shows you their competency. If only the local GOP and DNC were involved you would have a point. However that is not the case in any race. Keep spinning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. An Interested Party says:

    NE has been a Democrat [sic] strong hold for a long time. I doubt if many of the candidates that the Republicans put up there have been that conservative. Maybe they should give it a try.

    Oh sure…someone like Bob Smith would do so well there these days…

    Maybe some better spinning on Hoffman’s part might have helped him in this race…I guess that “close proximity” wasn’t close enough…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0