If Democrat Wins New York Special Election, It May Not Portend Much

May 24, 2011
Originally published on May 24, 2011 4:52 pm

Here's hoping that by this time Wednesday we'll all know the winner of the special election to fill the vacancy in New York's 26th Congressional District.

The polls close at 9 pm Tuesday so it could be a long night in a race that is being seen by many as a referendum on the House GOP proposal to privatize Medicare.

Recent polls have given Democrat Kathleen Hochul a small lead over Republican Jane Corwin in the district that's been reliably Republican.

Here's the key point: even if Hochul should win, this race may need an asterisk because Tea Party candidate Jack Davis could prove to have been the decisive factor, siphoning Republican votes away from Corwin.

Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News provides the necessary caution:

With three candidates running in a special election in which turnout is expected to be low, "the dynamics of the race make it difficult to project nationwide political ramifications," said Nathan L. Gonzales, political editor for the Rothenberg Political Report. "But it's going to get a lot of attention."

The media and outside funders are investing so much in the race because "it's the only game in town," said Larry J. Sabato, who heads the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "And it's about bragging rights. That's what special elections have become."

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