NY-26: The Pre-Spinning Begins

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 23 2011 11:32 AM

NY-26: The Pre-Spinning Begins

On Friday afternoon, right after the close of business, American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio sent out an unusually speculative e-mail. American Crossroads is the 527 that first jumped into the race and nationalized it, trying to minimize Tea Party candidate Jack Davis's support while bucking up Republican Jane Corwin. On Friday, when Collegio sent the e-mail, no polling was showing Democrat Kathy Hochul in the lead. That made Collegio's tone more interesting.

"This race is competitive because a phony Tea Party candidate is spending millions of dollars purposefully confusing voters in an attempt to split the Republican vote," wrote Collegio, referring to Davis. "I’m not sure what the overarching meaning is there, other than that some older men are willing to spend vast amounts of treasure pursuing inexplicable ends. No one doubts that the 2012 environment is different from what it was in 2010, where Republicans were able to win elections without even running campaigns. A head-to-head would be more difficult now than it was six months ago. But let’s not be silly and ascribe deep ideological meaning to an atypical three-way House race in upstate New York."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Advertisement

This is not the sort of message you shoot over to reporters if you think the election's looking like a Republican win. Seventeen hours later, the Siena poll was released, showing Hochul with a 4-point lead. And on Sunday a Public Policy Polling survey showed Hochul with a 6-point lead.

The whole American Crossroads email, for reference:

After reading a lot of Democratic spin about how the NY-26 special election is a great ideological referendum, I wanted to hit the reset button on everyone’s brains before the weekend, and take a quick moment to imagine NY-26 if the tables were turned.

Imagine a three way special election between a Democrat, a Republican, and a Green Party candidate. This Green Party candidate was actually a Republican, who had run for the same office as a Republican in three of the last four elections. And he didn’t actually receive the Green Party’s endorsement; instead, he paid the state elections board $3,000 to be on the Green Party’s ballot "line".

Now imagine that, by spending $3 million of his own money on TV ads, this Green Party candidate split the Democratic vote and made what should have been an easy Democratic win into a competitive race.

Then, imagine a bunch of Republican operatives claiming the closeness of the race had nothing to do with vote-splitting – but was rather a referendum on Obamacare.

The very earth would cry foul.

Yet, this is exactly what is happening in NY-26. This race is competitive because a phony Tea Party candidate is spending millions of dollars purposefully confusing voters in an attempt to split the Republican vote. I’m not sure what the overarching meaning is there, other than that some older men are willing to spend vast amounts of treasure pursuing inexplicable ends.

No one doubts that the 2012 environment is different from what it was in 2010, where Republicans were able to win elections without even running campaigns. A head-to-head would be more difficult now than it was six months ago. But let’s not be silly and ascribe deep ideological meaning to an atypical three-way House race in upstate New York.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 4:10 PM Skinny Mark Wahlberg Goes for an Oscar: The First Trailer for The Gambler
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.