Yes, Kathy Hochul was the better candidate, coming across as warmer in the CSPAN debate I saw, while still managing to put Jane Corwin on the defensive regarding tax rates for the wealthy. Corwin gave an OK reply as to how taxing the rich more would stifle small business growth, but it didn't help that she herself is wealthy, which appeals to the Republican Party because she can self-fund her campaigns but not to the blue-collar voters of an economically shell-shocked congressional district in Western New York.
The state Senate GOP had cover from the Democratic governor and New York's high-tax reality this year when it helped get rid of the millionaire's tax. But there is no popular constituency for the national Republican line that the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy must not be allowed to expire, and that there can be no revenue-raising component of any deficit-reduction plan. It's that position, more than the Medicare debate, which just cost the Republicans another special election defeat in a New York district where they have a big registration advantage.