I'll be watching the NY-26 special election tonight and putting up analysis tomorrow morning -- analysis of a GOP win, a Democratic win, or a contested count. The spin for the contested count is the easiest to predict, because Democrats can say they went the distance, Republicans can say they recovered in the final hours, and both parties can fundraise, fundraise, fundraise.
The polls close at 9 p.m., so... what do you need to know about the race? My main pieces about the candidates and the stakes are here and here . The electoral math is complicated, but in 2006, this was the scene of a close race between incumbent Republican Tom Reynolds and Democrat Jack Davis, and the numbers from that race can be useful in seeing who's got an advantage.
The district includes some or all of seven counties. The most populous county is Erie , where it captures some of the Buffalo suburbs. Both Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Jane Corwin have bases in the district; Tea Party candidate Jack Davis's factory is there, too. In 2006, while he lost the race, Davis won the county by 10 points; Hochul was easily outpolling Corwin here. If Hochul wins the county solidly, Corwin has to rack up big margins in the rural counties and in the suburbs of Rochester. That means winning Monroe , which gave Reynolds a 14-point win in 2006, and as James Hohmann reports, Republicans had bought a ton of ad time in Rochester. They were playing catch-up after Hochul had pretty successfully introduced herself to voters. The GLOW counties -- Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming -- are the rural heart of the district, with fewer voters who usually deliver strong Republican margins. If Corwin isn't blowing them out, she's in trouble.
There are plenty of ways to follow this, including National Journal's liveblog . The tweeters: @WNYMediaChris, @BuffaloBeast, @HotlineJess, @DNDailyPolitics. And if I'm forgetting anyone, remind me.
9:10: The polls are closed; the results will be here . According to Capital Tonight in New York, turnout in Monroe County was around 23 percent while turnout in Erie was 30 percent -- roughly a good sign for Hochul.
9:15: With 15 of 56 precincts in, Hochul is only winning Niagra County by 1 percentage point -- down from where Davis was in 2006.
9:21: Votes from Erie are trickling in, and Hochul is racking up an 18-point margin . Keep in mind, though, that Jack Davis won this county by 10 points in 2006.
9:26: Hochul is keeping it tight in Monroe. Tom Reynolds won by 14 points here in 2006; with 22 of 90 districts in, Corwin is only winning it by 3 points.
9:34: If the rest of the GLOW counties look like Livingston, Corwin is in deep, deep trouble. Livingston is a solid Republican County. It voted 60-40 for Reynolds over Davis in 2006. She's only winning it 46-44.
9:43: Corwin is dramatically underperforming in the GLOW counties and Monroe. I'm calling it for Hochul.
Kathy Hochul (D) defeats Jane Corwin (R).
9:57: Genesse and Orleans counties are dragging, but look at where the outstanding precincts are. Of the 212 precincts out, 46 are in Erie, where Hochul is winning easy and racking up her margin. Thirty-eight are in Niagra: Also Hochul turf. Only 3 are in Monroe, where Corwin needed to cancel out the Hochul margin from Erie but the candidates are tied. The remaining precincts, 115 of them, are from the GLOW counties. Corwin needs to find a 4,000-vote margin with this map. It's not happening.
10:20: The race has been called by the AP, and the Democratic gloat-a-thon has begun. The full statement from DCCC chairman Steve Israel:
"Today, the Republican plan to end Medicare cost Republicans $3.4 million and a seat in Congress. And this is only the first seat.
"Congratulations to Congresswoman-elect Kathy Hochul on her upset victory. Kathy is committed to strengthening Medicare and she will be a wonderful Representative for New York’s 26 th district.
"We served notice to the Republicans that we will fight them anywhere in America when it comes to defending and strengthening Medicare.
"Even in one of the most Republican districts, seniors and independent voters rejected the Republican plan to end Medicare. The American people will continue to hold House Republicans accountable for their plan to end Medicare from now until election day 2012."