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Today's New York 26 Special Election Says Little About The Republican Medicare Plan Or The 2012 Election

24 May 2011
Posted by Pete Davis

The media are already making a bid deal out of today's special election in New York's 26th congressional district as a referendum on Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan -- not!  There's a lot more going on in this race that has absolutely nothing to do with Medicare.

Although Democrat Kathy Hochul has a narrow 42% to 36% lead over Republican Jane Corwin and Tea Party Jack Davis in this traditionally Republican district according to last Sunday's Public Policy Polling, "highly unusual circumstances" offer more proof that "special elections are mutant species" according to David Wasserman of Cook Political Report.  He adds, "While all special elections should come with a warning label reading “Do Not Project Results onto Next November’s Races,” this label should come super-sized on a race involving a wealthy, pro-choice, protectionist Tea Partier who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2004, 2006, and 2008 (spending more than $5 million of his own money) and has spent at least another $1.7 million in this race." 

Multimillionaire Corwin finances her own campaign too and was forced to admit in the only debate with Hochul that she owns a Cadillac, a Range Rover, and a Mercedes.  She countered that Hochul's husband owns a Lexus, which Hochul denied.  Then there was the incident two weeks ago where Corwin's Chief of Staff confronted Davis, video camera in hand, over his refusal to debate.  The shoving contest ended up on YouTube and threw Corwin off-message.  All Hochul has had to do was to stand above the fray, act like one of the people, and challenge Corwin over Rep. Ryan's Medicare plan.  Corwin cited Hochul for supporting President Obama's health reform plan and for becoming another pawn of Nancy Pelosi.

I'm with David Wasserman in concluding this race is another "mutant species."

On the other hand, reportedly

On the other hand, reportedly Medicare is a major issue in the race. The race should have been an easy Republican victory. Both parties are pouring a lot of money into the 26th,

It's always hazardous to generalize from a single data point, but ...


Good ol Pete. Party line come

Good ol Pete. Party line come hell or high water or common sense. Steve Benen at Washington Monthly says it best, "When Scott Brown wins a special election in Massachusetts, it’s an important signal from an individual race. When a Republican struggles in a “red” district in Buffalo, it’s a reminder that there are no important signals to be taken from individual races."


I agree with the principle

I agree with the principle that you can't extrapolate from any given race to learn "what America wants," because each race is too idiosyncratic.

On the other hand, you don't learn nothing, either.

This was a district that sent Chris Lee back to Congress 6 months ago with *74 percent* of the vote. They voted for Carl Paladino over Andrew Cuomo. And yeah, there's a Tea Party guy in there, but he's a ex-Democrat who wound up with under ten percent. A Democrat getting 48% in this district is a big deal win or lose, no matter what the unusual circumstances are.

And Medicare was the most important issue in the race.

We can't draw any iron laws, but it sure does seem like ending Medicare is not a political winner for the Republican Party.

(Which is a good thing from a policy perspective, because the problem with Medicare is the problem with our economy generally: the astonishing and skyrocketing cost of health care).




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