Larison makes several strong points:
The GOP seems to be making what ought to be an easy win into a national Phyrrhic victory in which the relative strength of conservative activists inside the party becomes vastly exaggerated and identifies the flailing, failing party even more closely with its conservative members. This will make it very difficult for conservative activists to disassociate themselves from the outcome of the midterms next year.
What I find strange in the fixation on NY-23 is that the off-year gubernatorial elections probably serve as a much better indicator of large-scale movements in public opinion. Larger, more diverse electorates in large states are involved in Virginia and New Jersey. If things go as I expect them to with a Republican pick-up in Virginia and a Democratic hold in New Jersey, the message will be rather muddled. It will mean that Virginia will have chosen a Northern Virginia moderate who successfully ran away from his earlier social conservatism while New Jersey re-elected an incumbent who was thought to be highly vulnerable and discredited by corruption. Those results could be explained by pointing to the nature of the electorates in both states, but this does not lend itself to a triumphant narrative of Republican resurgence fueled by true believers.