History of Special Elections Suggests Don’t Read Too Much Into NY 20

Posted March 31, 2009 at 4:13pm

Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 20th District has received substantial national attention, though it’s probably a mistake to read too much into the result of the balloting between Republican James Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy.

The most obvious reason is that the Obama administration is barely two months old and that 20 months remain until the 2010 midterm elections, which will be a much broader referendum on the president’s policies and the Democratic-run Congress.

Moreover, a history of House special elections dating to 1968, which I compiled and posted on Greg’s List, should also give pause to ascribing too much importance to the outcome of a low-turnout election in a district that voted narrowly for Barack Obama in the 2008 election.