By now the Democratic Party’s hoopla about winning a seat from this staunchly Republican district has died down. With the smell of victory in their noses, how can you fault anyone for thinking that pro-Medicare politics defeated the let-them-eat-cake program of the Republicans. A quick look at the numbers, however, should be cause for a more sober assessment.
According to numbers that have not been certified yet, but that the state election board has sent to the House of Representatives:
- Kathy Hochul the Democrat received 50,890 votes.
- Jane Corwin the Republican received 45,501 votes.
- Jack Davis from the Tea Party received 9,658 votes.
- Ian Murphy from the Green Party received 1,128 votes.
The Democrat may have won the race, but support for Medicare did not win a majority of the votes. The Republican vote combined with the Tea Party’s was 55,159. By contrast, the Democratic vote plus the Green Party’s totaled 52,018. The point is obvious: if it had not been for the Jack Davis’ third-party campaign, the Republican would have won the race. That said, during the course of the campaign, the Democrat apparently pulled votes away from the Tea Partier.
Corwin the Republican started the race on April 27 with 36% support, and ended it on May 22 with the same numbers, according to TPM’s Poll Tracker, which included data from Public Policy Polling and the Siena Research Institute. Davis the so-called Tea Partier, began with 23% but ended the race ten points lower at 13%. Those ten points, apparently went to Democrat Hochul, who started at 31% and ended it with 42%. The election was held on May 24, and the final percentages were slightly different. But the result is the same: the Republican did not lose votes on the Medicare issue, the Tea Parties’ “third party” candidate did. And despite the best efforts of several national Tea Party factions, those lost votes did not go to the Republican.
Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks PAC, for example, publicly endorsed Republican Corwin. Ditto Judson Phillips’ Tea Party Nation, which endorsed Corwin and called Davis a “faux Tea Party candidate.” Further, they claimed that the Davis candidacy was a “dirty trick” by the “left,” which “will do anything to steal an election.” Amy Kremer for Tea Party Express in California also jumped into the fray, urging support for Corwin. Local Tea Party leaders, however, were split over supporting Davis.
It is unlikely that many Tea Partiers will run against strong Republicans during the 2012 general elections. We should expect many primary election challenges, however. The Tea Parties are not just a shill for establishment Republicans.
This election should also cause all the folks talking about how the Tea Parties are dead to stop and think a minute. There is a Tea Party convention coming up in Kansas City this fall. The Tea Party Patriots are planning a week of programs called Constitution Week in which they will try and push Cleon Skousen’s distorted views of the Founding Document into the schools. The Tea Parties are picking up the banner of nativism and xenophobia–witness their criticism of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida. And more, much more.
There are battles out there for anti-racists and human rights advocates to fight with the Tea Parties. And wishing it away will not make it go away.