Why is Nan Hayworth running for Congress again?

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Nan Hayworth. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Former congresswoman Nan Hayworth, a Republican, has announced that she is going to run against Sean Patrick Maloney again to get back her Hudson Valley congressional seat.

You might wonder why someone who lost as an incumbent to a Democrat in a district with a Democratic enrollment advantage would challenge the person who beat her.

A deeper dive shows why she might be optimistic about her chances this time.

 

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Hayworth Maloney Election 2012

 

In 2012, she lost to Maloney by 3.7 percemt of the vote. The election in 2012 saw over $10 million in spending, including $5 million in outside spending. Hayworth spent $3.3 million and Maloney spent $2.2 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Both candidates are gearing up for a rematch. So far, Hayworth has raised over $700,000 and has $500,000 cash on hand, and Maloney has raised $1.7 million and has $1.2 million cash on hand.

In 2012, although Hayworth was an incumbent, she was technically running in a different district. New York State had gone through redistricting and so she chose to run in the 18th district instead of her original 19th district. However, the new 18th, now Maloney's seat, was 76 percent of her old district.

In April 2012, Republicans and Conservatives held a slight enrollment advantage in the district—of 0.3 percent—over Democrats and members of the Working Families Party. But by the time November came around, Democrats and the Working Families Party had a 1.5 percent enrollment advantage.  As of November of 2013, the district had a slightly higher enrollment advantage for Democrats and the Working Families Party: 1.7 percent.

 

18Cong Enrollment

But there are probably two things that make Hayworth feel confident.

First, in off-year congressional elections, voters tend to favor the party that isn't in the White House. The Cook Political Report says that the more pertinent off-year trend to watch is that the voting pool skews Republican, since it tends overall to be older and more conservative than the electorate in presidential years, taking an estimated 2-3 percent from Democrats.

This alone wouldn't be enough though to erase Maloney's 2012 margin. 

But Hayworth is also probably counting on the Independence Party line. In 2010 she got 5,000 votes from the Independence Party. She was denied that line in 2012 because she lacked enough certified signatures. It is unclear whether the Independence Party line is a straight add of 5,000 votes, and we don't know how many Independence Party voters pulled the lever for Hayworth on the Republican line in 2012 and how many either didn't vote or voted for Maloney. 

But if it's a straight add (and assuming Hayworth gets it) it would give her an additional 2-3 percent.

In her best-case scenario, then, she'd get bumps from the national mid-term trend and the Independence Party line, enough to overcome Maloney's financial advantage, and the name recognition she has as a former officeholder will go some way toward canceling out his advantage of incumbency. 

And yet the Cook Political report still categorizes the contest as leaning Democratic. Hayworth, apparently, thinks that's close enough.