Hard to say, since the media gave little-to-no coverage of the candidates. There was one very short clip of Hoffmann speaking and it didn't go well. He sounded inarticulate and tongue tied. I wonder if the real situation was like the situation up here, lack of decent candidates. It's hard to find intelligent articulate candidates who are willing to put up with the abuse and the long hours of running for public office.
From what I hear, Scozzafava was the choice of the Republican party leadership in the district, but didn't appeal to the voters much. That happens, as a very narrow gauge Republican leader myself, I like to think I know what Republican voters want, but I can easily be wrong. I can visulize a dozen guys, part timers, getting together to find a candidate, and settling on Scozzafava as the only experienced politician willing to run. They are all good old boys, and a daresay Scozzafava was a good old girl, and well known to them, whereas Hoffmann was a total amateur, new to the district, and so they didn't consider him.
Net result, the Republicans nominate a weak candidate. A third party candidate comes out of nowhere and blows her away. But that third party guy, Hoffmann, isn't all that strong a candidate himself, and the Democrat wins the election.
So, rather than a Republican electorate moving to the right, we really have a Republican party unable to come up with strong candidates.
As I said, I don't really know all this, but based on personal experience, that's the way it might have been. Too bad we don't have any real reporters up there in NY 23 to tell us what really did happen.