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.