The special election in NY-20 will hinge on the estimated 10,000 absentee ballots that will be counted over the next two weeks. Election day voting had Democrat Scott Murphy leading Republican Jim Tedisco by a mere 65 votes out of 154,000 cast. Given that a large number of the 10,000 to be counted are military voters, it is very likely that Tedisco will end up the winner.
This is a huge, huge victory for Republicans. Democrats were unified in their message that they won a moral victory with Murphy being ahead and keeping it very close, but that spin belies the facts of recent history. Now-Senator Kristin Gillibrand won the 2008 election by double digits despite the Republican spending $6 million trying to unseat her. Obama carried the district by three points in the last election, and in previous elections, Democrats Elliot Spitzer and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton did as well. This was the Democrats to lose, and lose they will.
This sends a shot across the bow of President Obama and Congressional Democrats, because this race was in essence a referendum on the young Presidency of Obama and on the Democrat Congress.
The most instructive quote of the night came from NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions:
“Less than 150 days ago, President Obama carried New York’s 20th District, and former Congresswoman Gillibrand was handily reelected in this district by a margin of 62-38 percent, despite the fact that her Republican opponent spent $6 million trying to defeat her. For the first time in a long time, a Republican candidate went toe-to-toe with a Democrat in a hard-fought battle over independent voters. This was hardly a common phenomenon in 2008, particularly in the Northeast.”
History of Recent Elections in NY-20:
• President Obama carried the district by a margin of 51%-48% in 2008.
• Kirsten Gillibrand won re-election in 2008 by a margin of 62%-38% against a challenger who spent $6 million.
• Eliot Spitzer carried the district by a margin of 57%-36% in 2006.
• Chuck Schumer carried the district in 2004, as did Hillary Clinton in 2006.