Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck were the three biggest names who got behind the right wing House candidacy of Doug Hoffman in New York. These three have been the loudest advocates of the GOP’s need to move to the right, and although Hoffman might have lost the election, the biggest losers yesterday were Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin.
Palin, who was poised to reap the credit if Hoffman won, tried to spin away the loss on her Facebook page, “The race for New York’s 23rd District is not over, just postponed until 2010. The issues of this election have always centered on the economy – on the need for fiscal restraint, smaller government, and policies that encourage jobs. In 2010, these issues will be even more crucial to the electorate. I commend Doug Hoffman and all the other under-dog candidates who have the courage to put themselves out there and run against the odds.” (Someone needs to tell Sarah that Hoffman was the favorite).
While on his radio show today Rush Limbaugh was blaming the Republican Party and Newt Gingrich:
Limbaugh said, “Here is — these are my thoughts on New York-23. … We cannot forget how this whole thing happened in the first place. There was not a primary. The right message here would indict the way party bosses, Republican Party bosses and these big thinkers like Newt screwed the whole thing up from the get go.” Limbaugh also claimed that Palin’s endorsement of Hoffman did hurt her at all.
Perhaps no one on the right wing invested more into Doug Hoffman’s candidacy than Glenn Beck, who featured Hoffman on both his radio and television shows in the run up to the election. However, Beck was not on his radio show today, and has not given any reaction to Hoffman’s loss.
The moral of this story is that once again the influence of Beck and Limbaugh has been greatly exaggerated. We have seen repeatedly that when the right wing talkers try to venture into politics, their audience doesn’t follow. Remember the laughable failure that was Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos during last year’s Democratic primaries? How about the resounding thud of Beck’s 9/12 protest this year?
Due to Palin’s lack of popularity, it wouldn’t be surprising if we were to find out later that her endorsement actually hurt Hoffman’s candidacy. Sarah Palin is nothing more than the same drag that she was on the 2008 GOP ticket, but she seems to have made a gross miscalculation by catering to the far right.
The biggest losers in yesterday’s election were the so called power brokers of the anti-establishment right. Establishment Republicans won the governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia by avoiding the bitter language of the far right. How long is going to take for Republican candidates to learn that Beck and Limbaugh have no influence at the polls?
The lessons coming out of yesterday are that the economy has put voters in a surly anti-incumbent mood, but that the strategy of moving to the right, as advocated by Beck, Limbaugh, and Palin is not the way to go. After the defeat in NY-23, The Republican Party has now lost five straight special elections, and the GOP looks no closer to being nationally competitive than it did last fall.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association