Update #12, 10:38pm:
You can click here for final vote (later tonight). With 87% of the precincts reporting, Democrat Kathy Hochul now leads by 5000+ votes. She will win the race by 5-6 percentage points. She will not break 50%. She will be vulnerable in 2012. Senator McCain carried the district comfortably in 2008. Good night.
Update #11, 10:30pm:
1. The GOP campaign to crater “Crazy Jack” Dean’s Tea Party candidacy was successful. He had been pulling between 15% and 20% of the vote in pre-election polls. He got 8% of the vote (give or take) tonight. So that worked.
2. We don’t have exit polling so we don’t have the electorate’s mind map. But two things stand out: Hochul ran very well in Erie County and Corwin only broke 50% in Wyoming County. That’s partially due (obviously) to “Crazy Jack” Dean. But there was a sense (fair or not) that Corwin didn’t really connect with the District’s voters. “Too richie rich” was something we heard more than once.
3. This election would never have happened without the Medicare issue (which is to say: House passage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan which called for the “overhaul” of Medicare). A lot of people, when they heard “overhaul,” thought “privatization.” Hochul made this her issue — her only issue. It enabled her win tonight.
4. The adults in the Republican Party have already begun thinking through how the GOP gets out from under the issue of “overhauling” Medicare. The quickest way would be to strike a grand (or large) bargain with President Obama that requires both sides to sign off on Medicare reform. But after tonight, the Democrats won’t do a deal that takes the Medicare issue off the table. Tonight, Democrats saw electoral salvation. They’re not about to barter it away.
Update #10, 10:06pm:
Hochul wins. Corwin’s need/get impossible.
Update #9, 10:04pm:
AP just called for Democrat Hochul. We don’t disagree. But we’ll wait for another batch of vote just to be sure.
Update #8, 10:02pm:
Two-thirds of the precincts are reporting. Democrat Hochul leads by 4000 votes. She’s not free and clear yet. But Republican Corwin is coming into harder maths.
Update #7, 9:54pm:
We’re not ready to make a call yet but the signs are pointing to Democrat Hochul. We need Orleans and Genesee vote (none has yet reported).
Hochul leads by 3500 votes, roughly, a 5% margin. Here’s a better vote link.
Update #6, 9:46pm:
Race tightening a bit. 55% of the precincts reporting. Same spread (Democrat Hochul up by 3000 votes, give or take), but margin shrinking slightly (48%-43%). GOP campaign to collapse Jack Dean (the faux Tea Party candidate) worked. He’s getting 8% of the total vote.
Update #5, 9:40pm:
Almost 45% of the precincts reporting and Democrat Hochul is running strong. Now leads by 3000 votes, give or take. She is running ahead of Gillibrand on a two-party basis. Gillibrand won the district in 2010 US Senate election.
Update #4, 9:35pm:
Democrat Hochul running well in Erie County. Opening up a solid lead there. She now leads by 6 percentage points, or roughly 1600 votes. The direct link to the vote is here.
Update #3, 9:29pm:
Early Vote is close. Democrat Hochul has slight lead (roughly 370 votes ahead). No Genesee vote reporting. All signs point to close election.
Update #2, 9:05 p.m.:
Polls are now closed for the special election in New York’s 26th congressional district.
National Journal’s Hotline has a turnout update: Monroe County, a cluster of Republican-leaning Rochester suburbs, estimated 23% turnout at 8 p.m. The county was a crucial one for Republican candidate Jane Corwin, so its a positive sign for her that turnout was high.
Update #1 5:37 p.m.:
Reports from various sources indicate a fairly strong turnout as of mid-afternoon. Here’s a NYT report.
Of course, reports from the field always indicate a fairly strong turnout as of mid-afternoon. Sometimes it’s true. And sometimes it’s not. The general rule on turnout is: wait until most of the vote is counted before making any definitive statements.
Here’s a link to where we think things stand heading into tonight’s vote. We’ll be back at around 9pm and will be posting until the vote is fully tallied.