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Parties Preparing for N.Y. Special Spin

Derek Gee/Buffalo News/Associated Press
The past two polls in the race showed Democrat Kathy Hochul (right) with a small lead over Republican Jane Corwin.

“Hi, this is Bill Clinton. ... You can count on Kathy to say no to partisan politics that would end Medicare as we know it to pay for more tax cuts for multimillionaires,” the former president said in a robocall taped for Hochul.

Republicans have in some cases already started to turn on the Corwin campaign, which had a near-limitless bank account, but saw her numbers decline steadily in recent weeks. The former businesswoman has loaned her campaign at least $2.76 million.

“With all of those resources to have gone sideways or backwards with some fluff trying to build some positives on herself was just wildly inefficient,” one Republican operative said. “She wasn’t prepared to fight the two-front war.”

That war, according to the operative, was to go after Davis, “the 800-pound gorilla,” and Hochul at the same time. In the end, that message wasn’t getting out. And a host of outside groups, including the conservative American Crossroads and the NRCC, were forced to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into a race that they never expected to have to invest in.

“For the NRCC to have to come in and run a dual-message, 30-second ad where they’re trying to define Hochul and Davis, it’s too little, too late,” the operative said.

Democrats suggest that they’ve already won, regardless of the outcome tonight. They forced Republicans and their allies to devote significant resources to a race that was supposed to be an easy hold.

“To me there’s no moral victory. But that’s because I’m on the campaign,” Pollock said. “But the fact that this race is in play, the fact that Crossroads and the NRCC has had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars — outspent us maybe 2-to-1 — is significant.”

Ultimately, of course, a Democratic victory in New York’s 26th district may be short-lived.

Just as was the case of former Rep. Charles Djou’s (R) 2010 three-way special election victory in Hawaii, Hochul is unlikely to win a head-to-head race in this district in the future. And there’s a strong likelihood that a Hochul victory would mean that the seat is eliminated in redistricting.

“If Hochul wins, it’s a rented seat. And it’s because this special election is an anomaly. Were it one Republican versus one Democrat, a good Republican campaign would have a huge advantage,” said Bob Honold, a Republican consultant who led the NRCC’s efforts in New York last cycle.

Honold is among a growing group of Republicans who believe the GOP nominee will lose after all the ballots are counted tonight.

“With no Jack Davis in the race and the exact same issues in play, Republicans win. And I don’t think anyone disagrees with that, not even Hochul,” he said.

The polls across the district open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

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