At his weekly briefing with reporters today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was asked whether a Republican defeat in New York's 26th district tomorrow -- still a possibility, not a certainty -- would be a vote against the Ryan plan for Medicare.
"No," said Cantor. "Not at all. This race is about the fact that it's a three-way race."
He explained how things had gotten to this point -- how the very effective Jane Corwin candidacy had been tripped up by the Jack Davis campaign -- and then went further.
"I know this town loves to take signals from individual races," he said. "I think the best signal you can take is the 63 seats that we picked up in November. That was a signal that the American people were tired of the direction being taken by the other side, they were upset about the situation with jobs, and they were upset about government spending. I think those issues are still front and center with the voters and especially those in Western New York."
That raises a good question: What's the statute of limitations on an election mandate? In 2010, after Scott Brown won, Cantor seemed to suggest that special elections were, indeed, referendums on the ruling party.
If Corwin pulls it out, I don't expect Republicans to downplay it, either.