If two independent polls are accurate, Democrats are about to lose the House seat vacated earlier this year by disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) — a seat that has been occupied by a Democrat since the Harding administration. Democrat David Weprin, after a confused, gaffe-filled campaign, is trailing Republican Bob Turner in the New York City district, despite a recent infusion of cash from national Democrats. If Turner does in fact win Tuesday, what can we learn from the electoral upset? Here, four lessons:
1. Obama may have a Jewish-voter problem
The fight for the NY-09 congressional seat has turned into a referendum on President Obama and his Israel policy, says Patrick Brennan at National Review. The district is heavily Jewish, and Turner has convinced voters "that he will be a better friend to Israel than his Orthodox Jewish opponent" — Weprin — because of Obama's "cool attitude toward Israel." In truth, says Taylor Marsh at her blog, Obama is no "less a friend of Israel than any other establishment politician." But nothing is "more incendiary in American politics than the Who Is More Pro-Israel? fight," and Turner has apparently won this round.
2. Democrats are looking weak in 2012
The looming "electoral disaster" in NY-09, says Moe Lane at RedState, has Democrats "frantic" over the national implications. Well, they're right to freak out, says David Nir at Daily Kos. The data from pollster PPP indicates that only 65 percent of registered Democrats are voting for Weprin, and if "one-time Obama voters are now showing up to vote Republican, that's a pretty brutal sign" for the party. "If Obama actually loses this district next November, it's very hard to see him winning a national election," says Ben Smith at Politico.
3. It's foolhardy for a political party to dump an incumbent
"Republicans don't have the Democratic gene of self-loathing," says Taylor Marsh at The Moderate Voice. Weiner's tweeting of graphic photos to several women was incredibly dumb, but nothing on the order of Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) prostitution scandal — and Vitter was just re-elected in 2010. Weiner might have won again in 2012, too. But now, Democrats will almost surely lose Weiner's seat, thanks to "Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Steve Israel, President Obama, and the rest of the Democratic pack whose self-loathing made them jettison Rep. Anthony Weiner over an embarrassing and reckless act."
4. Special elections are strange, "fickle" affairs
The tea leaves looked equally bleak for Republicans just four months ago, when they lost a reliably Republican seat in upstate New York amid the flap over Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) controversial Medicare plan, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. So while special elections may give a sense of the national mood, Weprin's political misfortunes mostly show "just how fickle American voters are right now." Four months from now, voters could easily "revert back to punishing Republicans."