NY23: Hoffmania Misinterpreted

posted at 11:00 am on November 22, 2009 by The Other McCain

Two weeks ago, in the sleep-deprived aftermath of Election Night in New York’s 23rd District, I overlooked a couple of analyses which I just stumbled across. Ron Radosh wrote:

The reason Doug Hoffman lost in the NY 23rd Congressional District is that he ran as a purist of the take no enemies Right — that believes simple continual statements of the most far right conservative principles, particularly emphasizing so-called social conservative issues like opposition to abortion and to gay rights, would be the path to electoral triumph. . . .
Republicans want to win, they cannot confuse the views of their most far Right elements with that of the electorate to which they seek to appeal; they need candidates of the center-right who address their constituents’ concerns, and who do not turn away potential moderates and centrists whose margin of votes could guarantee their electoral victory.

This is such a complete misinterpretation of the Hoffman campaign that I scarcely know where to begin correcting Radosh’s errors. Hoffman was not a “purist” or a figure of the “far right,” and Radosh’s assertion that he lost because of an excessive emphasis “opposition to abortion and to gay rights” has no basis in fact.

I covered multiple campaign appearances by Hoffman, repeatedly traversed the 23rd District from Plattsburgh to Watertown to the outer Syracuse suburbs, and followed the campaign (including the advertisements for all three candidates) on local TV, radio and newspapers. What Radosh refers to as “so-called social issues” had almost nothing to do with how the campaign played out in the eyes of the voters.

Hoffman personally emphasized the reckless deficit spending of “the Pelosi agenda in Washington,” focusing on the debt that would be left for “our children and grandchildren” to repay, and forcefully stating his opposition to the pending healthcare legislation. The most effective TV commercials for Hoffman were his own campaign’s positive “Fight Back” ad, and the Club For Growth’s ad presenting Hoffman as the “common sense choice” versus Owens and Scozzafava, who were portrayed as indistinguishably liberal. Democrats countered by saturating the airwaves with TV ads that presented Hoffman as a greedy rich guy who wanted to ship jobs overseas to China and India.

Where did Radosh get his mistaken ideas about the nature of the NY23 campaign? Apparently from liberal media, including an article he cites by John B. Judis of the New Republic:

In New York-23, a diehard conservative backed by rightwing groups repudiated the center and lost to a neophyte Democratic candidate who probably could not have beaten Scozzafava in a one-to-one contest.

Again, we see the assertion that Hoffman was some sort of fanatical right-winger, as if opposing massive deficits and ObamaCare were tantamount to “repudiat[ing] the center.”

Trying to frame the outcome in NY23 in this manner utterly overlooks the reality of what actually happened. First of all, a cabal of GOP insiders hand-picked Scozzafava from a field of nine candidates, despite the warning of Conservative Party leader Mike Long that Scozzafava — due to her ties to the ACORN-connected Working Families Party and her extremely liberal record in the state assembly — was the only one of the nine candidates who would not be carried on the Conservative line. Second, the national GOP stubbornly backed Scozzafava (to the tune of nearly $1 million) long after it became obvious that she was headed for a third-place finish.

Third and most importantly, because of the candidate’s low name-recognition and the compressed nine-week time-frame of the campaign, the Hoffman campaign had serious fund-raising issues. By the first week of October, the campaign was nearly broke, which hobbled the ability of Hoffman’s team to open satellite offices, canvass precincts, etc. It wasn’t until the second and third weeks of October that Hoffman finally began to get national media coverage (thanks in no small party to a big push from conservative bloggers) which boosted his fundraising. Had that money surge — including the $116,000 in online donations on Oct. 22, when Sarah Palin endorsed Hoffman — arrived two or three weeks earlier, it would have made an enormous difference.

The outcome in NY23 was largely a matter of campaign mechanics that had nothing to do with Hoffman being “far right” or inordinately emphasizing social issues. Liberals would very much like Republicans to believe the Radosh/Judis interpretation — “Those Tea Party wingnuts can’t win!” — which is why it’s important for Republicans to ignore the liberal spin and focus on the facts. Doug Hoffman was (and is) a mainstream conservative Republican, and the attempt to paint him as “far right” has been allowed to go unrebutted for too long.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Just more proof of a liberal media. They may not have a conspiracy but interesting how they for the most part come out with the same message.

CWforFreedom on November 22, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Lame Stream Media are publishers of DNC talking points memos.

Dasher on November 22, 2009 at 11:06 AM

The media have lost touch with reality.I really think they actually believe what they tell themselves during their daily circle jerks.

theTarCzar on November 22, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Great post, and I agree 100%. It needs to be understood that the real “moderates” are the millions of Americans who are fed up with out-of-control federal spending and want to see the government stop mortgaging our future, not those few who are willing to compromise on expensive new entitlements. Fiscal sanity is not “far right.” If it is, then the vast majority of Americans are extremists.

Caiwyn on November 22, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Please Liberals! Tell us how to win! Conservative Republicans are completely clueless about how to win an election or appeal to voters, we need your advice!

/obligatory sarc tag

Mord on November 22, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Wait… you mean liberal reporters report their narrative instead of the actual facts? Thanks for pointing this out but I’m not surprised at all.

bigbeas on November 22, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Yeah! Push back against the left painting fiscal responsibility as a right wing lunatic fringe philosophy! YEAH! WE ALL WANT OUR REPS TO SPEND OUR KIDS FUTURES!/s

Lame Streamers do not want citizen representatives or journalists for that matter. It marginalizes their own power. Their dissolving power…

Buckeye Babe on November 22, 2009 at 11:20 AM

It needs to be understood that the real “moderates” are the millions of Americans who are fed up with out-of-control federal spending and want to see the government stop mortgaging our future, not those few who are willing to compromise on expensive new entitlements. Fiscal sanity is not “far right.” If it is, then the vast majority of Americans are extremists.

This is true as far as it goes. It seems to me that the vast majority in America are in favor of a Constitutional approach to government–smaller is better. However, we are faced with the reality that the majority of our nation is now run by Chicago thugs, the Left Coast, and the liberals in the Northeast who preach hand-outs and government control. We have at least already mortgaged our grandkids’ future. What I fear is that we may have enslaved them. I believe this betrayal will be reflected in future history books as the most heinous act ever.

Crusader Rabbit on November 22, 2009 at 11:25 AM

I can’t wait to hear what they say next year after the primaries and the general election…

Khun Joe on November 22, 2009 at 11:29 AM

That was a bizarre article from Radosh, who’s a usually sharp conservative. I can only think he was under deadline and made the mistake of taking Judis and others’ analysis at face value.

irishspy on November 22, 2009 at 11:30 AM

The depth of frustration of the American people with the ruling class is deeply underestimated. Social Security is about bankrupt because congress thinks it is OK to buy votes today and screw everybody tomorrow. The spending is criminal.If you check on Obama’s personal finances,he was a disaster until “Dreams” started paying out(thanks to bill ayers).He believes in Cloward-Piven and is encouraged by Soros and Stern. They think they will rule but from their mess anarchy will be the result followed by revolution.

tim c on November 22, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Fortunately, the accuracy of any sort of conventional wisdom on NY-23 will be disproven or confirmed in next November’s regular election, especially since Owens was sworn into office and immediately made voting for Pelosicare his first act.

If the CW is right that Hoffman ran ‘too conservative’ a campaign, then GOP primary voters will nominate someone closer to Dede than to Hoffman, and/or Owens will win re-election. On the other hand, if Hoffman or another conservative wins the primary and then the general, then you can say it wasn’t Hoffman’s views that were wrong, it was the GOP bosses screwing up the election by thinking it was still 2008 and that only someone as far to the left as Scozzafava could win, and then getting mad when the voters in the district revolted, leading to the split vote and Owens’ win.

jon1979 on November 22, 2009 at 11:39 AM

All conservative candidates will be presented as fanatical right wingers by the MSM, even if they say nary a word about abortion or social issues. It’s built into the system. We should get used to it.

Cicero43 on November 22, 2009 at 11:41 AM

First of all we must learn to completely ignore the so called “Mainstream Media”. They are nothing more than the propaganda arm of the left and every word that flows from their mouths and the pens is nothing but obfuscation and lies.

rplat on November 22, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Stupid article. You don’t lose by 3% against 2 major parties if you are unelectable. In fact, the only conclusion that can be drawn is quite the opposite, in fact.

alexwest on November 22, 2009 at 11:49 AM

No, Scozz was just the worst candidate imaginable.

darclon on November 22, 2009 at 11:56 AM

That was a bizarre article from Radosh, who’s a usually sharp conservative. I can only think he was under deadline and made the mistake of taking Judis and others’ analysis at face value.

irishspy on November 22, 2009 at 11:30 AM

It sounded like it was taken verbatim from some leftist blog, where conservatives are constantly portrayed as religious zealots obsessed with abortion and gay marriage, to the exclusion of all else.

I suppose it illustrates how removed some pundits are from the facts on the ground.

Nichevo on November 22, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Divide and Conquer

Look for our lamestream media to project this imagined dissention in next years election cycle. They will delve into every Fiscal Conservative Republican that also has social and moral values. They will attack relentlessly these values as homo-phobic bible-thumping fear-mongers attempting to force these values down the nation’s throats.

This tactic will be used to divide the party between social conservatives vs. fiscal conservatives.

We must NOT fall prey to their own devised plan to divide and concuer. A pact—call it an oath or a proclaimation–should be made SOON, that says the Republican Party is united in all things that promote/return fiscal AND social justice to a nation that currently has allow its government to financially destroy us. Make it a moral and fiscal responsibility that the Republican Party will not tolerate the suicidal unfunded social programs that are bankrupting this country.

Turn this on the media—make the Democrats the villians of their own devised social change that is raping this nations sovereignty and libertys. Do not let the media forget that it is not heteral-sexuals or bible-thumping Christains that are putting Americans in bread lines, but the thieves in Washington

And take no prisoners—they’ll just end up in federal civilian courts where the lawyers will slap them with a fifty cent fine while they retire on your taxpaying dollars.

Rant to be continued…..

Rovin on November 22, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Libs and lib republicans like Frum and a few others I could mention, will always frame a republicans loss this way.

A question to ask yourself. How would the liberal media have framed it had Hoffman not even been in the race and Scozzafava had lost to Owens?

I can guarantee that the talking points would be the same, even though they would have no basis in fact.

Every time a republican (RINO or otherwise) loses an election it is framed as a rejection of conservative values always.

The funny part is that when a republican wins it is never framed as the people are embracing conservative values. It’s either the electorate is stupid or he just had a ton of money to spend on the race.

conservnut on November 22, 2009 at 12:08 PM

alexwest on November 22, 2009 at 11:49 AM

A Conservative candidate beat 1 out of 2 Liberal candidates in that election. That is very telling.

It is also very telling what the Republican candidate stood for and what organizations endorsed her. The New Left is now trying to take over the Republican Party like they took over the Democrat Party in ’68.

If they do that, no matter what party wins, nothing changes.

Holger on November 22, 2009 at 12:10 PM

If you add the Scozzafava voters (most being Republican By Habit) and the Hoffmann voters, they outnumbered the Owens voters.

The lessons to be taken from this are as follows:

1. If the election timing is in the hands of a governor of the opposite party and you don’t control the calendar, write your candidate commitments in pencil instead of permanent marker. You may be otherwise stuck having mortgaged yourself to the hilt to someone who may be unsuitable when the actual election rolls around.

2. Talk of “realignment” is almost always overrated. People pretty much vote the same way most of the time, unless something breaks that paradigm. Even then, that paradigm being broken is good for at most two elections. Usually just one election. Don’t pick candidates assuming the ballyhooed “realignment” will carry into the oncoming election.

3. If conservatives want to get things done, it is better to get them done within the GOP rather than kicking the GOP while it is down and reinventing the wheel. The GOP may find it worth losing an election in an obscure New York district to bring that point across.

4. Congressional districts are heavily gerrymandered, and can have their own ideas of moderation and extremism, and whether they prefer extremism in the defense of liberty to moderation in the pursuit of justice—-even in districts that tend to elect Republicans. If you do not have significant, intimate knowledge of this dynamic, be careful in making assumptions about how the denizens of a given district will vote, and in giving your input.

Sekhmet on November 22, 2009 at 12:17 PM

by The Other McCain
Hoffman was not a “purist” or a figure of the “far right,” and Radosh’s assertion that he lost because of an excessive emphasis opposition to abortion and to gay rights” has no basis in fact

I cannot let you get away with allowing this statement to be framed this way and go unchallenged. That insinuates that we on the right are against gay rights. We are against changing the definition of marraige, as is most of the country. Challenge the way it is phrased, unless you agree with the statement.

Johan Klaus on November 22, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Just more proof of a liberal media. They may not have a conspiracy but interesting how they for the most part come out with the same message.

CWforFreedom on November 22, 2009 at 11:01 AM

The conservative media has a similar ‘cohesive message’.

ernesto on November 22, 2009 at 12:22 PM

All conservative candidates will be presented as fanatical right wingers by the MSM, even if they say nary a word about abortion or social issues. It’s built into the system. We should get used to it.

Cicero43 on November 22, 2009 at 11:41 AM

Currently Cicero, you are correct. But that does not mean we can not change the presentation. Yes, the media will not relent, but, so too is the liberal media recognizing the corruption in government. Even Dana Milbank today in the Post has written about Landrieu and Lincoln calling it the newest Louisiana Purchase.

Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.
On the eve of Saturday’s showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn’t secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.
And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote — and to trumpet the financial “fix” she had arranged for Louisiana. “I am not going to be defensive,” she declared. “And it’s not a $100 million fix. It’s a $300 million fix.”

Milbank is about a liberal as you can get in the left-stream media and yet even he sees these pigs with lipstick. And the great part of this story is over 80% of the commenters in his post are lambasting the liberals.

Examples:

Mobsters Landrieu, Lincoln, etc., did NOT, as propagandist Dana Milbank wrote, receive a “sweetener” or a “fix” or “concessions” or “be given more”.

Godfathers Harry M. Reid and Nancy Pelosi extort money from US taxpayers and dole it out to their gang member mobsters. It is a crime! They all should be thrown in prison!

AND

You and your traitor cronies, Ms. Lincoln, better enjoy your stay in DC while you still have it, because come 2010, you won’t have a job and will be standing in the bread line, along with the rest of us. I know a LOT of your constituents who will fight with everything they have to get your worthless self out of Congress in 2010! You ought to be ashamed of yourself….and Landrieu, that goes for you, too….you above anyone in Congress should be ashamed about your buyout! We aren’t as stupid as you think. You both make us all sick!

Change is coming my friend.

Rovin on November 22, 2009 at 12:29 PM

The LSM believes its own lies because it’s just too damn lazy to actually fact check. Journalism died and was replaced by propagandism.

Mojave Mark on November 22, 2009 at 12:31 PM

I never understand, really, why counting a few absentee votes takes so long. And I really didn’t understand Hoffman’s accusations that ACORN was involved. Finally, what happened to the million in donations he already received, and why does he need more?

AnninCA on November 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Journalism died and was replaced by propagandism.

Mojave Mark on November 22, 2009 at 12:31 PM

This was no accident. I think that McCarthy was right.

Johan Klaus on November 22, 2009 at 1:01 PM

I’ve never understood where “far right” is. If it means smaller government, fiscal responsiblilty, strong defense, lower taxes and equal opportunity then I guess that is where I am. Anything else and it is just making stuff up. Hoffman lost(?) because he didn’t get enough votes. Next year will be another story.

BetseyRoss on November 22, 2009 at 1:02 PM

AnninCA on November 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Shades of the franken theft. Find a few votes hidden here, find a few votes hidden there and you can win an election.

Johan Klaus on November 22, 2009 at 1:17 PM

We have at least already mortgaged our grandkids’ future. What I fear is that we may have enslaved them. I believe this betrayal will be reflected in future history books as the most heinous act ever.

Crusader Rabbit on November 22, 2009 at 11:25 AM

Unfortunately, the betrayers already write the history books. It’s time for some ‘fundamental change’ for this country.

2ipa on November 22, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Dear Mr. McCain: Thanks so much for this report. It was much needed and very well done.

First of all, a cabal of GOP insiders hand-picked Scozzafava from a field of nine candidates, despite the warning of Conservative Party leader Mike Long that Scozzafava — due to her ties to the ACORN-connected Working Families Party and her extremely liberal record in the state assembly — was the only one of the nine candidates who would not be carried on the Conservative line.

This points out how important it is to make sure you know your local and state Republican Committees and are actively involved in their selection. I still don’t know how this NY group was selected or who its members were. Obviously, they were not very representative of the GOP voters in the District.

Loxodonta on November 22, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Finally, what happened to the million in donations he already received, and why does he need more?

AnninCA on November 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Lawyers to fight for a possible win now through challenging machines and individual ballots. Then, the next election is less than a year away, so he needs fund for that as well.

Loxodonta on November 22, 2009 at 2:33 PM

Lawyers to fight for a possible win now through challenging machines and individual ballots. Then, the next election is less than a year away, so he needs fund for that as well.

Loxodonta on November 22, 2009 at 2:33 PM

OK, but I don’t like solicitations based on this type of disingenuous hype.

It just feels eely.

AnninCA on November 22, 2009 at 2:59 PM

AnninCA on November 22, 2009 at 12:53 PM

It’s a lot simpler and cheaper if you can simply trust both sides to act fairly, and election boards to do their job with efficiency and integrity. Unfortunately, to win in the current ACORN-infused electoral process, you need multiple good lawyers, observers etc.

For the reasons why this is necessary, see Franken, Senator Al.

cs89 on November 22, 2009 at 5:48 PM

which is why it’s important for Republicans to ignore the liberal spin and focus on the facts

Actually, it would be nice if ALL politicians focused on the facts.
Imagine that.
ugh.

bridgetown on November 22, 2009 at 6:48 PM

You cannot resuscitate a campaign and expect to win in two weeks. Basically, no campaign can be won in that amount of time. Hoffman did well for a two week, maybe three week campaign. He needs to keep campaigning, perhaps this time win in a primary and do this right.

kcarpenter on November 22, 2009 at 8:54 PM

The media have lost touch with reality.I really think they actually believe what they tell themselves during their daily circle jerks.

theTarCzar on November 22, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Just more proof of a liberal media. They may not have a conspiracy but interesting how they for the most part come out with the same message.

CWforFreedom on November 22, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Lame Stream Media are publishers of DNC talking points memos.

Dasher on November 22, 2009 at 11:06 AM

pajamas media is not the mainstream media and radosh is a conservative.

eh on November 22, 2009 at 9:49 PM

There are some other things going on here that the press hopes will help Democrats in 2010. First of all they want to disguise the fact that Scozzafava was the Democrats idea of the perfect Republican. If you going to lose an election, in a largely Republican district, she is the perfect candidate, one who would be a more reliable vote for Pelosi and Obama, than for the Republicans in her district.

One other thing the press has been successful doing is keeping the Palin effect to a minimum. I see a pattern to the stories that this politican or that politician is afraid to have Palin come and campaign because she drive independents away. I believe this book tour is going to blunt some of that specious reporting and you’ll see more of Palin on the campaign trail. That has to be one of the reasons Liberals are so afraid of her, she has enough star-power to bring people out to listen to the candidates, maybe not sway the votes and, for those that don’t make the speech, they trust her enough to take her recommendation.

NY23 was not a failure for Palin, in any sense of the word. If you read this story, Hoffman probably wouldn’t have gotten the votes he did without Sarah Palin’s endorsement, since that’s what started the money coming in and forced more Republicans to support him. The only problem in NY23 is it happened much too late to make the critical difference.

bflat879 on November 22, 2009 at 10:03 PM

emphasis “opposition to abortion and to gay rights” has no basis in fact.

What are you talking about? The Hoffman campaign brought up abortion and gay stuff so many times… it was even on their freaking website… Whenever I heard it/saw it, I cringed… that is not important now. It is the economy, stupid.

Sure, maybe it was not framed as “opposition to abortion and gay rights…” but he did make sure to point out the DEVIL supported abortion and gay marriage.

GW_SS-Delta on November 22, 2009 at 11:21 PM

GW_SS-Delta on November 22, 2009 at 11:21 PM

I’m talking about the campaign as seen from ground level in NY23, where the social issues were never a significant factor, mainly because Hoffman’s opponents — Scozzafava and Owens — didn’t want to talk about those issues.

Scozzafava, bizarrely, tried to run a congressional campaign on micro-issues more suited for discussion in the context of the state assembly. So it’s no surprise she was running a distant third when she finally quit the race. The Democrat Owens was, if anything, running to Scozzafava’s right. He certainly didn’t campaign as the pro-abortion, pro-gay-rights candidate.

The point is that, while Hoffman clearly had the support of pro-life “values voters,” neither Owens nor Scozzafava dared attack him on that terrain, as they evidently understood that courting the Lavender Coalition in NY23 was a formula for defeat. It’s a rural/small-town area; not Oklahoma, perhaps, but not Marin County, Calif., either.

So this claim — repeated over and over in the political press — that Hoffman was hurt by his social-conservative stances simply doesn’t hold water. Nobody ever challenged Hoffman on those issues, and therefore there was little emphasis on them during the campaign.

The Other McCain on November 23, 2009 at 12:49 AM

I was there the last 8 days in Watertown and called tons of people.

Only one person on the phone mentioned that she wouldn’t vote for Hoffman because he was pro-life.

We rarely mentioned that Hoffman was pro-life (only if someone asked) and focused on the deficit, Pelosi, the Army base as the main issues.

I agree with McCain’s analysis as it pretty much matched my experience on the ground.

Replace some of the county GOP heads and have a proper primary of which I hope Doug competes, and this district should go handily to the GOP with a right of center candidate, possibly Doug. Owens has already broke campaign promises figuring he is the Grayson of the north so why even vote to get re-elected. He goes on statist right out of the gate after getting sworn in.

Sapwolf on November 23, 2009 at 4:26 AM