Lesson from NY-23: Of Course Conservatives Can Win

Here's Rush Limbaugh from November 4:

I mean that's probably what they're thinking today on our side, "Yeah, you see, Reagan conservatives can't win in New York. We need Chris Shays-type guys. We need moderates like David Brooks-kind of Republicans to win." ... See, this is the dirty little secret: If the party had gotten behind Hoffman from the beginning, he would have won going away. I have no doubt about that. I'll tell you something else. People are now talking about Hoffman's lack of charisma and familiarity with local issues. The huge story of New York-23 is the shambles the Republican Party made of it. They nominated a horrendous candidate: A liberal Republican. She was far more liberal than this Owens guy, who ended up winning.

Exactly so.

I've become more than a little bit tired of the disingenuous argument that conservatives can't win elections. Had the Republicans actually gotten behind the conservative -- in this case, Hoffman -- he would have won, as Rush says, going away. There's no question in my mind about that. The fact of the matter is that they tried to define themselves as Democrat-lite with Scozzafava, and that nonsense never works, particularly in a district like NY-23.

I live about three hours from NY-23. One point that you have to understand about that district is that the people there are as a rule conservative and independent-minded folks.

Residents in the district recognized that who the Republican Party presented to them as being one of their own -- Scozzafava -- was nothing of the sort. The conservative Doug Hoffman filled that role better.

Hoffman managed to pull within the margin of error while running against the full weight of both parties. So don’t tell me conservatives can’t be elected with the proper support.

There is a major disconnect between the Republican establishment and the Republican rank and file that the former has yet to get their head around. They do not understand conservatives. They want nothing to do with conservatives. They view them as a roadblock to power. That, too, is key to understanding my anger here. They have long since made the transition, as Reagan once put it, from being part of the solution to being part of the problem.