Nate Silver Cautions Against Reading Too Much Into NY-26

Stats guru Nate Silver has some cold water for Democrats who think a win in the special election in western New York heralds new momentum for 2012:

[A]s we saw in a couple of special elections in 2009, districts in upstate New York, like this one, are among the quirkiest in the country, not least because they are among the few places where moderate Republicans still exist in large numbers. Many of the upstate districts are competitive in presidential elections, but Republicans can do very well there in races for the Congress when they nominate moderate candidates — and can run into trouble when they don’t.

In addition, like the rest of New York state, the 26th uses fusion balloting, in which the same candidate can be nominated by several parties and appear on each party’s line on the ballot. That gives minor parties like the Conservative Party of New York State and the Working Families Party an unusually important role, which has no analogue in most other states.

More significantly, though, both partisan and nonpartisan polling is saying that the election in the 26th has become a three-way race among a Democrat, Kathy Hochul; a Republican, Jane Corwin; and an independent, Jack Davis, who has the backing of some Tea Party groups. (There is also a Green Party candidate, Ian Murphy, who might win a few votes.)

The polls appear to show Ms. Hochul on an upward trajectory, while the votes of Republicans and conservative-leaning independents are being split between Ms. Corwin and Mr. Davis…it’s pretty far from something we can take as a referendum on the mood of the district, let alone the whole country.

Nate Silver Cautions Against Reading Too Much Into NY-26