Republicans won two House seats in a special election last night. One, in Nevada, had been a relatively safe district, and Republican Mark Amodei cruised to victory over Democrat Kate Marshall as expected. Also as predicted, Republican Bob Turner won a six-point victory over Democrat David Weprin in NY-09, a Congressional district in the heart of Democratic stronghold New York City. The margin of victory exactly matched polling leads for Turner from both Siena and Democratic pollster PPP in the final days before the vote.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a surprise. The NY-09 seat has been in Democratic hands since, well, Warren Harding was President. So what did the leader of the Democratic Party have to say about the loss?
Democratic party leaders insisted the loss wasn’t a harbinger of things to come. “It’s a very difficult district for Democrats,” said Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, noting its Democratic margins there tend to be the second lowest of all the districts in New York City.
Well, in her defense, she still hasn’t gotten past that tough loss when Andrew Peterson edged David O’Connell for the seat … in 1922. The same seat was held by Geraldine Ferraro, Chuck Schumer, and Anthony Weiner … when he had his pants on. Going back to 1996, the lowest percentage a Democrat got in a general election in this seat was 60.8%, which was in 2010 while the Tea Party took 63 seats from Democrats that ended up being a lot more “difficult” than this one. It was such a difficult district that Weiner ran unopposed in 2006 and virtually unopposed in 2008.
Getting past the absurd spin, does this win mean as much as Republicans would argue? Michael Bloomberg hopes not:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed the suggestion the outcome has national implications.
“It’s not the end of the Obama administration and the Republican resurgence,” the mayor said. “These tend to be local races.”
But this tends to argue otherwise:
Another Jewish Democrat, Richard Krisberg, said he voted for the Republican.
“Weprin supports President Obama and his policies, and that’s why I voted against him,” Mr. Krisberg said.
Neither does this from the New York Times:
The Turner campaign had eagerly courted disenchanted Democrats, and outside polling places around the district on Tuesday, multiple longtime Democrats confessed that despite concern about Mr. Turner’s eagerness to slash federal spending, they chose him hoping that his election would get lawmakers’ attention.
“I am a registered Democrat, I have always been a registered Democrat, I come from a family of Democrats — and I hate to say this, I voted Republican,” said Linda Goldberg, 61, after casting her ballot in Queens. “I need to send a message to the president that he’s not doing a very good job. Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”
I think it’s safe to say that even Democrats aren’t buying the President’s
new rehashed jobs proposals as the key to economic recovery. They want a big change in direction, and they are most definitely not seeing it from Obama. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz may still be correct — but if NY-09 has turned into a “very difficult district” for Democrats, there are going to be an avalanche of “difficult districts” in 2012. This next election might make 2010 look like a breezy summer day for Democrats unless Obama can figure out how to stop his slide.