Nate Silver makes an interesting point:
The Democratic brand is marginal in about half the country, but the Republican brand is radioactive in about two-thirds of it. The biggest story of the cycle is that a non-Republican conservative, Doug Hoffman, might win. Counterfactual: if Hoffman had in fact been the Republican nominee in NY-23 all along, would he be in the same strong position that he finds himself in today? Methinks not: it would have been easier for Owens -- who isn't much of a Democrat -- to identify himself as the moderate in the race.