But let me just respectfully disagree with Frank Rich:
No matter what the results in that race on Tuesday, the Republicans are the sure losers.This reminds me of those claims by conservative pundits that the 2006 congressional elections were somehow a victory for conservatives. Face it: a win is a win. The 23rd CD is a pretty moderate district. Although it's been held for a decade by a Republican, Obama actually won that district by 5 points last year. If conservative activists manage to replace a moderate nominee with a conservative one and still get that nominee elected in a moderate district, that is a pretty big win.
I heard Rush Limbaugh's take on the race, which (shockingly) varies with your take and the conventional view. He says that this is not a case of locals picking one candidate and then outsiders coming in to demand a more conservative candidate. Rather, he points to the fact that because this was a special election it didn't have a primary. And, in a primary, he insists that the local Republicans would have chosen Hoffman. Thus, this isn't a case of locals vs. outsiders, but local party elites vs. the local grassroots.
Rush's argument isn't crazy, but it's impossible to prove. Had there been a primary, local party elites would have done their best to advantage Scozzofava in the contest through money, endorsements, etc. Maybe Hoffman would have prevailed, maybe not.
Counterfactuals are fun.
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