A Little Local Perspective on the 23rd…

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There’s a lot of smart analysis being written about last night’s elections, including great insight from my TIME colleagues Jay Newton-Small and Karen Tumulty. What do the Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey mean for Obama’s health care agenda? What challenges will Democratic candidates face in 2010? What does New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s narrower-than-expected victory say about the perils of incumbency in today’s economy?

How the national parties handled the races in New Jersey, Virginia, New York City and upstate New York can tell us a lot about political strategy going forward. But what happened within the context of local political history is also informative. I’ve already been sending Swampland readers to the web site of my old employer, the Watertown Daily Times, throughout our coverage of upstate New York’s 23rd congressional race, but following Democrat Bill Owens victory over Conservative Doug Hoffman, I can’t resist two more hyperlinks.

Here’s my old boss Bob Gorman, managing editor of the Daily Times, on what happened in the 23rd and what it means – for locals, state political officials and beyond.

And here’s Brian Mann, a reporter for North Country Public Radio, an NPR affiliate in the 23rd.

Both posts are worth reading in full, but here’s a preview of what Mann had to say:

I think my first sense that something was wrong in the Hoffman Wave came around 8pm. I arrived at the Hotel Saranac to find a distinctly underwhelming crowd.

There were plenty of reporters. Fox News had set up an entire studio, so that Sean Hannity could capture the moment of Doug Hoffman’s victory.

But where were the crowds of grassroots supporters? Where were the hundreds (the tens?) of passionate activists?

…Hoffman helped to elect a Democrat in NY-23 for the first time in modern history.

What went wrong? Maybe nothing.

Maybe the traditionalist message (pro-life, opposing gay marriage) and the anti-government rhetoric simply don’t appeal to enough people.

Or maybe the same factors that helped build the wave — the sense of culture-war urgency, that whiff of triumphalism, the hectoring of the Becks and Limbaughs — also brought it up short.

It also appears that while conservatives loathe Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a sizable number of North Country voters don’t.

In fact, they kind of like and respect her. Not so shocking when you consider that she’s been an elected official and GOP leader for a decade.