In a surprising setback for the hard-right tea-party movement, Conservative Doug Hoffman—its cause célèbre candidate in New York's 23rd Congressional district—has turned out to be a lost cause. Voters in this district, a Republican lock since the Civil War, chose Democrat Bill Owens over the favored Hoffman despite efforts by tea-party icons Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck to throw their weight behind Hoffman and oust his other rival, moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava (who dropped out last weekend). What does Hoffman’s loss mean for conservative activists? (Watch an MSNBC panel discuss Bill Owens' defeat of conservative Doug Hoffman)

The hard right meddled in the wrong race: The Republican Party lost because "conservatives overreached," says Marc Ambinder on CBS News' website. NY-23 is strongly Republican, "but it’s not a terribly conservative district." So while Hoffman appealed to angry, well-funded national GOPers, "Dede Scozzafava was well-suited to represent the district." Will conservatives learn to pick their fights more shrewdly?
“What Doug Hoffman’s loss means to conservatives”

Actually, Hoffman’s loss was a 'huge win for conservatives': That may sound counterintuitive, says Erick Erickson in RedState, but the GOP was really focused on destroying Scozzafava—a Hoffman win "would just be gravy."
"In NY-23, conservatives win"

National-party pressure tactics can backfire with locals: Resist the urge to read too much into this, says Ben Smith in Politico. Knocking out Scozzafava was a show of strength by "the resurgent conservative movement," but the "central dynamic” of the race was "locals against outsiders, not liberal against conservative."
"Owens in the North Country"

Sarah Palin may be the real loser here: "This race was reality television at its best," says Andrea Tantaros in, "and like many reality shows, after you’ve watched it you feel like you learned almost nothing." That said, one thing’s clear: Sarah Palin didn’t hurt Hoffman, but if she "has any hopes of winning a national office she can’t run around endorsing unwinnable candidates."
“Four Things We Learned From the NY 23 Race”