I spoke to a Democratic campaign consultant who was involved in NY-23, and he told me he could not believe that the Republicans had nominated someone so far to the left, thus dividing the party. He also told me that their polling showed that Hoffman was on his way to victory until Scoz endorsed Owens in the closing days of the campaign. That, again, is an aberration, unlikely to be repeated in many key races in 2010 or beyond. It does happen (recall Sen. John Warner’s support for Marshall Coleman in the 1994 U.S. Senate race in Virginia between Oliver North and Chuck Robb), but rarely.

The more likely future for the GOP was seen in Virginia, where a stalwart conservative, Bob McDonnell, won the strong backing of prominent moderates like former Congressman Tom Davis, Bobbie Kilberg, and John Warner. McDonnell never trimmed his philosophical sails and never back-tracked on his pro-family, tax-cutting, pro-growth views, but his moderate temperament and inclusive leadership style attracted the support of not only moderate Republicans and 2 out of every 3 independents, but even prominent Democrats like the Sheila Johnson, wife of BET founder Bob Johnson. I never heard a single complaint from moderates in the party about McDonnell’s conservative views or his background as a Regent University graduate or favorite of the pro-family community.