As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Democrat Scott Murphy leads Republican Jim Tedisco by 401 votes.
If these results stand, it will be frustrating and disappointing for the GOP, but not a reason for despair. Our friends on the left will continue to insist it’s a “deep red district,” but it’s accurately described as purple, with Gillibrand winning by a wide margin in 2008 and Obama carrying it narrowly. Murphy is likely to be vulnerable in 2010 against the right candidate — whether that right candidate is Jim Tedisco is debatable. Had the RNC not put in its $1 million, had online donors not provided Tedisco with $120,000, this race probably wouldn’t have been as close — a margin of about one third of one percent of the 160,000 votes cast.
It’s frustrating to come close and lose. But I was reminded of this post by Patrick Ruffini from last year:
And I think we need to be unafraid to tell our candidates that it’s okay to lose the first time out — the British parties routinely feed promising young lambs to the slaughter in unwinnable by-elections or deep in opposition territory. Those that prove their mettle are brought back to run in safe seats. Tony Blair won 10% of the vote in a 1982 by-election before being given a safe seat to run in. The average Democrat who was elected to Congress as a second-time candidate in 2006 won an average 42% of the vote in their previous election.
In many endeavors in life, you often begin by failing spectacularly. Then you learn to complete, and come closer to your goal, but still fail. And then, applying what you’ve learned from your failures, you win.
UPDATE: Jim Tedisco conceded Friday afternoon.