Two e-mails, the first from Steve Horwitz, who teaches economics at St. Lawrence U:
I live in NY 23 and you are exactly right about it being Republican not conservative. I think you and others are also right in noting that what really got people upset about Scozzafava was not her social liberalism per se, but that in combination with her moderate-to-liberal views on economic issues. The real rebellion here is a Tea Party rebellion: people are just tired of spending and debt and that is what motivated the conservatives to run Hoffman.
Interesting counter-factual: suppose Scozzafava was still pro-choice and pro-SSM but anti-stimulus and had a better record on tax-and-spend issues. I think we would not have seen the Hoffman candidacy and I think she would have won the seat fairly easily. Yeah, some conservatives might have sat it out, but she would have got the votes of many more moderate GOPers (McHugh was fairly moderate after all) and would have picked off some independents and Democrats for being to the left of Owens on social issues. Folks here might have been okay with a social liberal/fiscal conservative combo, but a social liberal with her record on fiscal stuff (and card check) was just too much for the local conservatives.
End of the day what has happened here in the North Country is, I think, a referendum on the Bush/Obama culture of spending and debt. The rank and file GOPers have spoken, now let’s see what the voters think.
And from a reader:
Mr. Goldberg –
I grew up in NY23, in Canton. I haven’t lived there for a number of years, but I still visit. I saw you post on whether it’s a conservative or liberal area. A couple of things to note:
– There are two “college” towns, Canton and Potsdam, that are largely liberal.
– The buildup of Ft. Drum with the installation of the 10th Infantry (Mountain), has made that area much more conservative in the last 20 years
– St. Lawrence County, the geographically largest in the district (and in the state) is very poor. There is very little industry, and when I was there, it had the highest percentage of welfare recipients of any county in the state. Additionally, Dannemora State Prison is in the district, and has attracted downstate residents who’ve come to be near their inmate relatives. These are the liberals who elected Obama.
– I wouldn’t paint the conservative portion of the crowd as republican so much as libertarian. A lot of the area is very rural, small farms, small towns, a lot of folks who’d mostly just like the Government to leave them alone. Look into the history of the Adirondack Preserve some day – the people who live there didn’t think much of downstate politicians restricting their economic development in the interest of “the environment”.
– Finally, it’s interesting to watch the area become a political battleground, as it’s been the most ignored and bullied part of the state as long as I can remember (I’m 54). Poor and rural, they’ve had left-wing policies rammed down their throats forever. Some of those people may come out to vote just for the fact that somebody is finally listening.
Keep up the good work.