There was one notable exception - Sarah Palin weighed in, endorsing Doug Hoffman who she considered a more reliable conservative. Initially both parties reacted with disdain - 'There goes Palin again.' A funny thing happened since then - Hoffman is currently ahead of the Democrat by a slight margin and way ahead of Scozzafava. The race could still go to the Democrat but if it does the Republicans will have only themselves to blame (and I'm excluding Sarah Palin from this).
There is an important lesson here but I'm not sure that the Republicans echelon will heed it - conservatives can win, even in districts that went for Obama. For the past year conventional wisdom has held that the voters have turned against conservatives and that the Republicans' road back to power lies in recruiting moderates. At the same time there is a conservative movement that longs to see the Republicans run actual conservatives. This movement has embraced Sarah Palin and is scornful of the Republican leadership.
Recent polls show that the Republican strategy needs rethinking. People who self-identify as Republicans is down around 20% but people who identify themselves as conservatives is over 40%. This is nothing new. Conservatives have outnumbered Republicans for decades but the size of the split shows how dissatisfied conservatives are with Republicans. (Interestingly, the same polls show that there are usually more Democrats than liberals.)
The number of conservatives was at a low point in 2008 and has increased greatly as people see what a liberal (or progressive) government is actually like.
It is hard to predict how a three-way race would go if it was only a two-way race. It is possible that Scozzafava and the Democrat are splitting the liberal and moderate vote allowing a minority of conservatives to determine the election. It is also possible that a district that only gave Obama a slight edge in 2008 has turned against the chosen one and would elect any one who does not have a "-D" after his name.
In the meantime, the Republicans are in the strange position of opposing a front-runner who would act as a Republican in Congress.
On the other side, high-ranking Democrat Van Hollen made an interesting analysis.
By rejecting that candidate for a non-Republican ... and picking somebody else, I think they send a signal that they're more interested in purist ideology than they are in problem solving,
I will not argue with that but I do wonder where Van Hollen stood when the Democrats tried to eject Joe Lieberman from the party in 2006 over ideological differences?