PPP poll: Hoffman up big in two-man race

Good news, but with lots of caveats.

Here are some interesting facts from our unweighted numbers so far:

-In a three way contest Doug Hoffman leads Bill Owens by 19 points. In a two way contest Hoffman leads Owens by 15 points. So the Dede Scozzafava withdrawal and endorsement will probably tighten the race some but not nearly enough.

-58% of Republicans think that Scozzafava’s a liberal and that was obviously before her endorsement today.

-The Rush Limbaugh effect- Hoffman has a 79 point lead with Rush listeners while Owens has a 6 point lead with people who don’t listen to the show.

On its Twitter account, PPP flatly states that it expects Hoffman to win easily. Now the caveats: (1) Every other pollster thinks the race is close; (2) the White House evidently thinks so too given their outreach to Scozzafava (which, allegedly, included a phone call from Rahm Emanuel); and (3) PPP has a sample problem given that they started their poll before Scozzafava dropped out yesterday and kept it rolling on through today’s bombshell endorsement. That’s a lot of new information for respondents to assimilate on the fly and it guarantees that only part of the total sample will be reacting to Scozzafava’s switch. In fact, so dynamic and convoluted is this race — for example, just as I’m writing this, I’m hearing that Scozzafava’s campaign manager has endorsed Hoffman — that Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight has given up on trying to make a prediction, claiming that he wouldn’t be surprised if either Hoffman or Owens wins by double digits. (How’s that for a margin of error?) And he adds a fourth caveat to PPP’s blowout forecast: If Scozzafava thought that her supporters would defect to Hoffman after she withdrew, she wouldn’t have withdrawn, would she? She’d have stuck around for two more days until the election to help out her pal the Democrat by keeping those votes from DH.

But look. As gratifying as it would be to see Hoffman win, the guy didn’t become a conservative grassroots cause celebre because people are dying to see Doug Hoffman in Congress. He’s a cause celebre because conservatives wanted to send a message to the GOP about the future of the party, and that message has now been sentand received, to the tune of $900,000 down the toilet — regardless of what happens on Tuesday. The party can still get away with putting up socially liberal Republicans in select purple districts next year, but fiscally liberal nominees are going to earn them either a primary challenge, a third-party challenge, or a disaffected base spending election day at home. And a Hoffman defeat will do nothing to change that. As for sending a message to Democrats and The One, that’s already been achieved too thanks to the looming landslide in Virginia for McDonnell and the fact that, even if Corzine wins a squeaker, it’ll only be because Zeus himself had to carry his ass across the finish line in what’s normally a dependably blue state. All of which is to say that Tuesday will be a good day no matter which way the polls in NY-23 and New Jersey end up tilting.

Exit question: Is Newt planning to comment on Scozzafava’s betrayal, perchance? He’s tweeted four times since she made her announcement and not a peep out of him about it yet.

Update: Ah, my mistake. Newt did comment on it, as an update to a blog post on his site:

Scozzafava did the right thing in dropping out. I am, however, deeply dissapointed that she has chosen to back Owens over Hoffman.

I am endorsing Doug Hoffman and believe everyone who wants to create jobs with lower taxes and to control spending and deficits should vote for Doug Hoffman Tuesday.

Follow the comments over there. Right now.