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Grassroots Conservative candidate forces official Republican candidate to withdraw from New York Congressional race

The US Republicans should have a good day on Tuesday. They are almost certain to reclaim the Governorship of Virginia and have an evens chance of winning the Governorship of new Jersey despite a late surge to the Democrat incumbent.

The race with the greatest long-term implications is taking place in New York state, however. A solidly Republican district has a vacancy after Representative John McHugh was appointed by President Obama as Secretary of the Army. The Republican Party nominated Dede Scozzafava to take his place in Congress but her liberal views enraged ordinary conservative voters.  The Wall Street Journal accurately painted her as a high taxing, union-supporting liberal.

In huge numbers conservative voters defected from the Republican candidate to support an independent Conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman. Hoffman overtook Scozzafava in the polls, won the backing of leading Republicans including Fred Thompson and Sarah Palin and today - just three days before voters go to polling stations - Scozzafava has withdrawn from the race.  This should mean Hoffman wins, and avoids a victory for the Democrat candidate because of a split in the centre right vote.

The long-term implications are also fascinating. The Republican establishment has learnt that Republican voters cannot be taken for granted. In the age of the internet and with the support of talk radio an insurgent candidate can be much more than a protest vote. One day the same thing may happen in Britain.

Monday 2nd November update: The Wall Street Journal warns conservatives not to over-react to the news: "Democrats did themselves no favors by driving Joe Lieberman out of their party, and conservatives will do their cause no good by forcing GOP candidates in Illinois, California and Connecticut to sound like Tom DeLay. If conservatives now revolt against every GOP candidate who disagrees with them on trade, immigration or abortion, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will keep their majorities for a very long time."


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