Since the previous post, the 'official' Republican candidate - Scozzafava - that had to drop out because the 'unofficial' Conservative candidate - Hoffman - was getting all the national Republican support made her official statement to her followers on whom they should support in the coming election.
The Republican told them to go vote for the Democrat.
Let's be blunt: this is unheard of. A candidate from one of the established parties just simply doesn't support the opposition candidate. There would only be one reason for this to happen: The usurping candidate is just so damn unpalatable that "Better the Devil You Know/Respect" Rule comes into play (the fact that Owens' response to Scozzafava's drop-out was respectful whereas Hoffman's was pretty much a self-satisfied "Ha-Ha!" kinda sealed the deal).
How will this actually play out come election time? Pollsters still think Hoffman secures the edge because as the Conservative (and now unofficial Republican) candidate he'll get enough of the self-ID'd Republican voters who vote GOP out of habit. But there was a reason Hoffman wasn't the original candidate in the first place (he's not local, and he's too far to the Right for the actual community). There's also the revenge factor: Scozzafava's supporters don't hate Owens, they'll hate Hoffman, and people tend to vote AGAINST someone, not FOR. There's also the Parochial factor: the local NY voters can't be too thrilled that their election got hijacked by the national players (Palin, national GOP figures, the wingnut media crazies like Malkin) who are essentially pushing on them a candidate (Hoffman) that's NOT of their district and who's more representative of Southern (basically anything south of the state border with Pennsylvania) values.
This is, beforehand, a pretty unpredictable election coming up. 'Course, afterwards we'll all be slapping our foreheads and going "Oh, we knew that was going to happen!" But not really.
All we can tell is that the result will go one of three ways:
1) Hoffman wins. Regardless of the lead or actual results, if it's a blow-out (unlikely) or if he wins by one vote. What will happen is that the Far Right Wingnut machine will celebrate like it's New Year's Eve 1984, that it will ABSOLUTELY VINDICATE EVERYTHING they believe, that the election is a referendum on HOW UNPOPULAR OBAMA IS, NOBODY REALLY LIKES HIM, HE CHEATED AND ALL BECAUSE HE'S NOT REALLY BORN HERE, that TRUE AMERICANS are terrified that OBAMA IS DESTROYING AMERICA, etc. It will justify the Club for Greed's efforts to purge moderate candidates and officials from elected office, and will accelerate their efforts across the nation. Moderates from seemingly safe states like Maine will either flee the party a'la Specter or fearfully line up lockstep to receive their marching orders.
2) Owens wins by a reasonable margin, within 5 percent over Hoffman's results, or in a squeaker with just one vote. Democrats will celebrate with smug satisfaction that once again it proves that the GOP is destroying itself with this intraparty sniping, but that would be about it. The mainstream national-level Republicans will shrug this off as a close race and ignore it within one news cycle, or focus instead on how they easily won in Virginia. There will also be a slight chance that New Jersey's governorship will go their way, so they could celebrate that. The Club for Greed and their wingnut allies will still crow that they hold the upper hand within the party structure, that moderates still have to fear their power to knee-cap them in primary challenges.
3) Owens wins in a blowout (anything 60 percent and over is a blowout). The Demorats will still be overly smug about the victory, but that'll be about all they'll get out of it. The real fireworks will be on the other side of the aisle. If the Democrat does get that many votes in what is a safe Republican district, it will obviously be because the moderates and independents who backed Scozzafava virulently opposed the Conservative Hoffman. The Club for Greed and their ilk will still crow about the RINO scalp they earned (simply because they never learn, and Everything Is Good For (ultra-Right Wing) Republicans in their POV), but a humiliating defeat like this is going to scare the rest (AKA the rational few) of the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich will be justified and have ammo to take to the Sunday Talk Shows about how right he was to support moderate candidates like Scozzafava in places like New York and the Northeast. Regional GOP leaders (at the state levels) will start balking against having their efforts getting hijacked the way this one was. There's a good possibility the financial backers of the Club for Greed will take a step back and review just what exactly they are getting out of their money (clues: The Club for Greed removes moderate Republicans who could be their kind of pro-business allies and ends up getting Democrats who aren't favorable to their business interests elected to office instead. Sooner and sooner all that knee-capping kills your own interests...), which is actually very little at all. Given how defensive the wingnuts get (after all, they're always the victims even when they're the ones committing the crimes), they may even feel justified in going after MORE RINO scalps because Scozzafava openly 'betrayed' the GOP by getting her supporters to vote for the Democrat (even though Scozzafava and her people were ALREADY betrayed by the wingnuts' hatred of moderates. So there).
In this scenario, the intraparty civil war will get worse for Republicans because it won't get lopsided the way a Hoffman win would: it will embolden moderates into proving they have enough power to decide elections and that they can keep the party afloat. And the wingnuts, always on the defensive, will refuse to see reason and fight harder to make the Republicans their purity party.
Of the three scenarios, Option 3 is less likely: electoral blowouts don't happen outside of ridiculously gerrymandered safe districts. Option 2 (Owens win close) is my personal preferred, because I'm a moderate who has no love for the Club for Greed anyway. I dread Option 1 (Hoffman wins), only because it will make the Far Right go even crazier than they already are, which is honestly frightening.
There are some who feel that if Hoffman does win it will only accelerate the self-immolation of the GOP because it will drive all the moderates Indy or Dem. Just look at the current polling numbers, and try to imagine the GOP getting smaller because of their purity efforts because that's the ONLY response you will get. The wingnuts think their purification will actually ATTRACT more voters who will be drawn towards how shiny and sparkly their ideology is: in truth all it really does is scare away anyone with enough brains cells to have, you know, actual doubts about things... Look at the Independent numbers. I have NEVER seen polling that had more Independents than both Democrats or Republicans. All those Indys HAVE to be moderates fleeing the GOP, because look at how level the Democratic numbers have remained (near about 35 percent)... and when do national parties shrink BELOW 30 percent of the voting population (GOP at 20-21 percent)?
I hate nail-biters. They distract me from my homework and NaNoWriMo efforts. Phoeey.
UPDATE: Just spotted a pre-election commentary by Nate Silver at 538. As always, he's got great access to the polling numbers and a better way of evaluating just how crazy the whole election thing gets. Key points: Owens is in a better position because of Scozzafava's endorsement; Hoffman will benefit from an active conservative turnout; while a Hoffman win won't change the intraparty dynamics for the GOP, the Democrats would be better served by a close Owens win that would leave conservatives (read: Club for Greed) empowered enough to sabotage moderate efforts in major elections like the Florida 2010 Senate seat (an Owens blowout would embolden the likes of Crist who will be able to convince voters that the national-level wingnuts don't know what they're doing and don't care).