In the Morning Jolt, I try to put last night’s fantastic special election victories for Republicans in context for the 2012 presidential election. Sure, special election victories don’t always foreshadow how the subsequent national elections will turn out. But last night’s eye-popping results wouldn’t have occurred without a vivid national political environment, and it’s one that is extraordinarily ominous for Democrats.
About Last Night
Congratulate two new Republican members of Congress: Mark Amodei of Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District and Bob Turner of New York’s 9th Congressional District.
Regarding the latter, “Democrats have held [this district]for 88 consecutive years,” observes Brent Teichman.
Redistricting will force New York to lose a congressional seat in the 2012 elections, and so it’s possible that Turner will find himself running against an incumbent next November.
It’s worth noting that special-election victories don’t always foreshadow the trend of the following elections; Democrats enjoyed special-election wins by Scott Murphy and Bill Owens in New York, Ted Deutch in Florida, and Mark Critz in Pennsylvania in 2009 and 2010 before getting thrashed in the 2010 midterms; the GOP won special elections with John Campbell and Brian Bilbray in California in 2005 and 2006, and then went on to lose the House and Senate in 2006.
But Democrats shouldn’t fool themselves – which is, perhaps, what they’re best at. If Obama’s approval rating was in the high 50s and unemployment was 6 percent, these races would have looked different. While we never know what the future holds, there are not many folks who are predicting or projecting an economy that looks significantly better in autumn 2012 than it does in autumn 2011. And if that’s the case, how high can Obama’s approval rating be by Election Day next year? 50 percent? The mid-40s? Based on trends, it can and probably will be lower, and perhaps much lower, as he will be assessed in voters’ minds through the prism of four years of hard times.
I listen to Democrats today and I hear a lot of echoes of Republicans in Bush’s second term, after his numbers really took a tumble post-Katrina. A lot of Bush’s supporters were convinced that sooner or later it would turn around, that it was just a long slump, etc. It never really did turn around much, and then when Lehman collapsed and the economy tumbled at the end, the bottom fell out.
A friend reminded me yesterday that I (apparently) said, shortly after Obama’s election, that if you run on hope and fail to deliver, you’ll find yourself running for reelection in a supremely cynical nation.
Liz Mair concludes, “I’m thinking that ethics/sleaze issues + less-than-awesome opinion of Obama = combo that gives Republicans a shot in even unlikely places.”
If you’re looking for results in the special elections in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District and New York’s 9th Congressional district, you can find them here (Nevada) and here (New York). At this hour, the early count looks fantastic for both Republicans.
In New York, Bob Turner leads, 51 percent to 49 percent, with 121 of 512 precincts reporting.
In Nevada, Mark Amodei leads 61 percent to 34 percent, with about 12,400 votes counted so far.
UPDATE: AP calls it for Turner. Marshall has called and conceded to Amodei. The night ends with the GOP going two-for-two.
Boy, in that special election in New York’s 9th Congressional District, Democrat David Weprin just can’t catch a break. Now Anthony Weiner is admitting he voted for him.
In the linked report, it says that Weiner “showed up alone, wearing jeans and a blazer.” It’s bad when news reports need to emphasize you were wearing pants.
In New York, polls are open until 9 p.m. In addition to Republican Bob Turner and Democrat Weprin, the ballot also includes Socialist Workers Party candidate Chris Hoeppner. The Socialist Workers Party submitted 7,080 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Republican Bob Turner is poised to pull a huge upset in the race to replace Anthony Weiner as the Congressman from New York’s 9th Congressional District. He leads Democrat David Weprin 47-41 with Socialist Workers candidate Christopher Hoeppner at 4% and 7% of voters remaining undecided.
Turner’s winning in a heavily Democratic district for two reasons: a huge lead with independents and a large amount of crossover support. He’s ahead by 32 points at 58-26 with voters unaffiliated with either major party. And he’s winning 29% of the Democratic vote, holding Weprin under 60% with voters of his own party, while losing just 10% of Republican partisans.
If Turner wins on Tuesday it will be largely due to the incredible unpopularity of Barack Obama dragging his party down in the district. Obama won 55% there in 2008 but now has a staggeringly bad 31% approval rating, with 56% of voters disapproving of him. It’s a given that Republicans don’t like him but more shocking are his 16% approval rating with independents and the fact that he’s below 50% even with Democrats at 46% approving and 38% disapproving. Obama trails Mitt Romney 46-42 in a hypothetical match up in the district and leads Rick Perry only 44-43.
… but Josh Trevino notes that folks on the Right (myself included) haven’t always had such warm and fuzzy feelings about Public Policy Polling: “Today is the day we conservatives pretend we respect PPP polling, because it brings NY-9 wish fulfillment.” Having said that, we should also acknowledge that polling in special elections like this one is tougher than in a regular election because of the often much-lower turnout.
Over in the Corner, Patrick Brennan notes, “The race has been portrayed as a referendum on Obama, particularly his Israel policy and the national debt. In a heavily Jewish district, Turner has placed much of his hope for a victory on convincing likely voters that he will be a better friend to Israel than his Orthodox Jewish opponent, David Weprin, because of Obama’s cool attitude towards Israel. He has apparently succeeded, leading Weprin by a huge margin, 56 points to 39, among Jewish voters – a worrisome omen for Obama in 2012.”
You’ll remember I’ve had my gripes with the Democratic survey firm Public Policy Polling in the past. But it sounds like they’ve encountered some results in the special election in New York that surprises (and probably displeases) them:
My pretty straight forward take on the first night of our NY-9 poll: Dems in BIG trouble. It deserves the caps . . . If David Weprin wins this race, he’s going to win it in the final 5 days.
GOP’s Bob Turner is being called “the Scott Brown of Queens,” but recall Brown’s rival, Martha Coakley, made an embarrassing gaffe by using a 9/11 image in a late ad, “The image in the attack on Scott Brown for his alleged closeness to Wall Street pictures the World Trade Center and the destroyed Marriott Hotel on its western side.”
By the way, the green copper-roofed skyscraper is 40 Wall Street, also known as the Bank of Manhattan Trust building, the Manhattan Company Building, and the Trump Building, which is about three blocks from the World Trade Center site.
Over at the lefty site FireDogLake, there’s some grumbling that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has botched this month’s special elections:
Understand that this [late spending on ads by the DCCC] has an impact on not one, but two elections. There’s another special election in NV-02 on September 13, and a few weeks ago one PPP poll showed that a one-point race between Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall. But the DCCC never budged, never sent resources, and Amodei has buried Marshall with ad spending. So the D-Trip concedes that race, probably because they were conserving funds for NY-09, which by all rights should have been a sleepy blowout.
That half a million dollars would have come in very handy next year, when Democrats make a push to take back the House, no? Instead, it’s being chewed up in the expensive New York City media market to protect a bad candidate whose district will probably get chopped up in redistricting anyway. This is a really bad scenario, and it’s largely because of the national malaise and weak numbers for the President and Democrats. Republican numbers aren’t better, but in a seat like NY-09, the Democrats are seen as the incumbents. And the nation is in an anti-incumbent mood.
Republican Bob Turner led Democrat David Weprin by 6 points in the nonpartisan Siena College poll released this morning. The nonpartisan survey conducted Tuesday through late Thursday found 50 percent of those polled would vote for Turner if the election were held “today” while 44 percent would vote for Weprin. Six percent of the 886 likely voters polled said they were undecided. The numbers have flipped from a Siena poll a month ago, when Weprin had a 6-point lead.
It’s easy to forget, but Tuesday will be Election Day in two corners of the country.
In Nevada, residents of the 2nd congressional district will select their representative in Congress for the remainder of 2011 and 2012, choosing between Republican Mark Amodei, Democrat Kate Marshall, and two other candidates. Tim Fasano and Helmuth Lehmann.
Early voting has been brisk, with 20,038 registered Democrats, 32,068 registered Republicans, and 7,208 other voters casting ballots so far. That’s a healthy 12,030-vote margin for the Republicans, but there’s no guarantee that that translates to a 12,000-vote margin for Amodei.
Amodei’s closing negative ad compares Marshall’s cookie-cutter campaign rhetoric to that of some other well-known Democrats who aren’t polling well in this district these days:
And Amodei’s closing positive message is that “we’ve been promised recovery, and we’ve been given misery. Let’s send a message to Washington.”
A late-August poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling put Amodei ahead by only one, but there are signs that Washington Democrats are giving up:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s investment has been limited to a few field staffers dispatched from Washington. In truth, the party has all but given up on winning; early-voting numbers show a sluggish Democratic turnout, suggesting that Amodei is en route to a big win.
The two districts are mirror images of each other, in that Nevada’s is an R+5 while New York’s 9th congressional district, the district once represented by the infamous Anthony Weiner, is D+5 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. But Democrats seem nervous about the chances of their nominee David Weprin, who’s apparently barely head of GOP candidate Bob Turner. For what it is worth, a poll of 2,055 likely voters by Magellan Strategies shows Turner with a four-point lead over Weprin. Patrick Brennan, NRO’s 2011 William F. Buckley Fellow, laid out why Turner could be “the Scott Brown of Queens” here.
Redistricting will force New York to lose a congressional seat in the 2012 elections, and so it’s possible that the winner of this special election will find himself running against an incumbent next November.
It’s worth noting that special-election victories don’t always foreshadow the trend of the following elections; Democrats enjoyed special-election wins by Scott Murphy and Bill Owens in New York, Ted Deutch in Florida, and Mark Critz in Pennsylvania in 2009 and 2010 before getting thrashed in the 2010 midterms; the GOP won special elections with John Campbell and Brian Bilbray in California in 2005 and 2006, and then went on to lose the House and Senate in 2006. But a GOP sweep on Tuesday would help set the conventional wisdom that 2012 is shaping up to be a tremendously difficult year for the Democrats.