Possible GOP Win in Upstate New York Signals 'Deepened Divisions' in Party?

The day before Election Day, Vice President Joe Biden stumped in upstate New York for Democrat Bill Owens, in a close race against independent conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. Although conservative Hoffman seems to be ahead going into Election Day, a Monday afternoon City Room blog post by Jeremy Peters painted a picture of a struggling Republican party:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden rolled through this rural military town on Monday, becoming the latest political heavyweight to weigh in on the bitter contest here for an open Congressional seat that has deepened divisions in the Republican Party.

That's a strange way to paint a possible victory by conservative Republicans in a contest the Obama White House thought it could win (otherwise Obama wouldn't have picked the sitting Republican Congressman John McHugh as his Secretary of the Army).

That paragraph is missing from the updated version of the story, the print edition headline of which is weighed with ideology: "Biden Stumps In a Race Transformed By the Right." But Peters still suggested that the G.O.P.'s "backing of a deeply conservative candidate in the 23rd Congressional District" could backfire:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. threw the heft of the White House behind the Democratic candidate on Monday in a race for a vacant Congressional seat that both Democrats and Republicans view as significant tests of their political fortunes.

In the final hours before the polls open on Tuesday, Democrats made a plea for the votes of moderate Republicans who have become disillusioned with their party's backing of a deeply conservative candidate in the 23rd Congressional District. The race erupted after a more moderate Republican candidate, under pressure from conservatives, abruptly ended her campaign over the weekend.

But backers of the Conservative Party candidate appealed to their ideological base, arguing that the party had to hold firm to its core values.