New York Special Election Race No Bellwether for Democrats

State   |   Andrew Bair   |   May 25, 2011   |   5:03PM   |   Albany, NY

In an unfortunate turn of events yesterday, pro-abortion Democrat Kathy Hochul edged out a victory in the special election for New York’s 26th District. Despite the district’s Republican tendencies, one of the few New York districts that McCain carried in 2008, Democrats were able to pull an upset by capitalizing upon a divided conservative electorate.

Immediately after the race was called, Democrats were hailing a national shift in momentum toward their side. After experiencing devastating losses in the midterm elections just months ago, Democrats are hoping to market Hochul’s win as a bellwether for 2012. Nothing could be further from reality.

The New York special election is hardly representative of the national mood. The election was a three-way race featuring a Democrat, a Republican and a third party candidate who questionably claimed the Tea Party mantle. Conservatives in the district split their votes 42% for Republican Jane Corwin and 9% for Tea Party candidate Jack Davis. Hochul only garnered 48% of the vote. Had Davis not spoiled the race, Republicans would have held onto the seat. These unusual circumstances make it impossible to use this election’s results to predict the climate for the 2012 elections.

Corwin’s imperfections as a candidate drew some voters to rally behind Davis. Davis, who ran for the seat three times previously as a Democrat and as recently as February expressed support for abortion, was able to hoodwink many Tea Party activists by attacking Corwin. Davis paved the way for a Hochul upset. It was hardly the popularity of Democrats or distaste for Republicans that led to Hochul’s win.

Unless all the 2012 elections are going to be three-way races with two candidates actively seeking the right-of-center vote, it’s unrealistic to hail this race as a national indicator.

Republicans, however, should learn a lesson from this special election. Jane Corwin turned off many Republican and Tea Party activists by voicing support for abortion in the first trimester. Despite supporting the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the repeal of Obamacare, Corwin’s continued vocal support for some abortions repelled some of what could have been her most ardent group of supporters.

Pro-life advocates know very well that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. Corwin was hardly a perfect candidate. But it was commendable to see many pro-life advocates working diligently to prevent Hochul’s victory. Unfortunately, disunity proved too difficult a barrier to overcome.

Pro-abortion Democrats had no problem rallying behind their candidate. Hochul supports the most extreme elements of the pro-abortion movement like partial-birth abortion and taxpayer funding for abortion. Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, celebrated Hochul’s victory on Twitter and the pro-abortion group EMILY’s List exclaimed, “What a spectacular win for Kathy Hochul! We’re incredibly proud of our candidate – and ready to elect more like her!”

Looking ahead to the 2012 elections with the presidency up for grabs, the pro-life movement must remain unified and firm in our resolve to defeat President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in US history. Even if our favorite candidates don’t win the nomination or the eventual nominee is not perfect, we cannot let the 2012 presidential election mirror New York’s special election.