First point to make: everyone spins there losses as not being pertinent to the situation and everyone conversely spins their victories as great and meaningful. So a lot of the spin going on from on high and punditry in general is meaningless. Were the results of any particular result reversed, the sides would smoothly flip to saying the exact opposite.
Not too long ago prominent Republicans were telling us that “deficits do not matter.” Now they are a matter of life and death and when power switches hands again in Washington — and it will boys and girls it’s only a matter of when — then they will once again feel that deficits do not matter.
All that said I think the NY-23 district was an interesting race. The forces of Conservative Populism (A term I picked up from Nate Silver) chased the Republican candidate from the field and delivered the district to the democrats. So far the CP movement has delivered two seats to the Democratic party. (Sen. Arlen Specter and now NY-23) There are those who think this is a good thing. That the Republican Party needs to be more Conservative and there is an argument for that. It’s hard to win if you are trying to be the opposition-lite. However, in our two party, winner take all system, to win you need your base and you need the middles. Whoever does that wins. Making your base more extreme at the cost of the middle doesn’t strike me as a winning strategy. (This would matter less if we had proportional representation, then we’d have more parties and the parties could be more ideologically defined. That’s not our system so a drive for purity yields losses.)
I will not extrapolate these results into predictions for 2010 and hell no for 2012., There’s way too much time and way too many events between here and there.