Despite the travesty of (reluctantly) having Carl Paladino as its candidate, New York's Conservative Party received enough votes this year in the top-ticket race to displace the Independence Party and take back the third row on New York's ballots.
Yes, it looks like the party can once again say, “Vote Row C for Conservative! “
How'd they do it? The obvious conclusion is that fate smiled upon them with a failing economy and a political landscape tailor-made for their message….Without abandoning core social issues important to their rank and file, the Conservative Party leaders stuck to a fiscal message that attracted a much broader range of voters. By realizing the renewed relevance of the James Carville mantra – it's the economy, stupid! – they were able to appeal to moderate voters who might not necessarily agree with them on social matters.
Although there is still no official count, the CP appears to have finished with about 213,000 votes in the gubernatorial race, a huge improvement from their 2006 total. There was a major drop-off for the Independence line of about 54,000 votes, from which conservatives appear to have benefited most. The Independence Party might actually end up on Row E behind the left-wing Working Families Party, which also slipped from its 2006 total by about 17,000 votes.
In New York's system, parties are allowed to endorse anyone, including other parties' endorsed candidates. The candidates' totals from all endorsing parties are tallied together for the final result.
The party might have cost the GOP the North Country House seat of Rep. Bill Owens, D, where the two parties endorsed separate candidates, but it probably provided the margin in Republican Ann Marie Buerkle's victory in Syracuse over Rep. Dan Maffei, D.