Cook Political Report: "Scozzafava and Republicans in total disarray"

Democrats are crowing over a new report from the highly influential and nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which suggests that Doug Hoffman’s Conservative Party challenge could hand the Republicans a humiliating defeat.

Here’s how the piece opens, arguing that this is a race the GOP should have bagged easily:

”The launch of Democratic attorney Bill Owens’ campaign had all the feel of opening a campaign kit overnighted from DCCC headquarters to New York’s North Country. Senior Sen. Chuck Schumer apparently didn’t get the party memo, lamenting to a reporter during an official visit to the district that Democrats didn’t get its top candidate, seemingly unaware of Owens. And Republican Assemblywoman DeDe Scozzafava had a solid political base and a centrist record to box Owens out.

A month later?

”Now, Scozzafava and Republicans are in total disarray, and another special election looks like it could be headed for disaster. Haven’t we seen this before?

”Well, yes and no. In the past year and a half, Republicans have frittered away four competitive special elections, and in some of them cutthroat primaries fatally wounded GOP nominees. But in none of those elections did a well-funded, Club for Growth-endorsed candidate compete directly against the GOP candidate for votes on the general election ballot. Thanks to Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, Owens could well steal this seat from Republicans with between 40 and 45 percent of the vote.

Ouch.

According to the report, Hoffman’s “viability” — he’s polling 16% of the vote, a big number for a 3rd party challenger — has pushed the NRCC and Scozzafava “out of their comfort zone.

The article concludes that Scozzafava needs to “right her ship.” I think that overstates the case — she’s leading this race by 7 points — but it’s clear that this race isn’t shaping up the way the GOP envisioned.

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