First of all, I have not been following this race at all outside of the last few days. I‘ve had more important things on my mind, like my birthday coming up next week (I love gifts!). That being said, I would like to offer some thoughts on the special election in New York’s 9th Congressional district.
No matter what pontification you hear from professional and novice (like me) talking heads, Bob Turner won this election because of one thing; one person; one issue: BARACK OBAMA! The polling, especially from Democratic firms easily show that.
Yes, there are a few minor issues (minor to the voters of that district) that had some effect as well. They were Israel, marriage, and residency. The 218 year old NY-09 district, which currently spans from the outer boroughs of Brooklyn to Queens, hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress since 1923. This was not only Anthony Weiner’s seat, but it was also the seat of now-Senator Chuck Schumer and former VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro. But back to the issues.
This special election was all about jobs and the President. It was clearly a rebuke of Obama’s stewardship of the economy. Simply saying that he “inherited this mess” ain’t working any more.
Of note, there is the large population of Orthodox Jewish voters in the district. So the president’s position that Israel should return to its pre-1967 borders comes into play as well. Then there is the issue of marriage equality. Democrat David Weprin was a State Assemblyman who voted to bring marriage equality to the empire state (for that, I thank him). And finally, there was a small problem of Weprin not being a resident of the district.
Now granted, a Public Policy Polling poll indicated last week that voters in NY-09 oppose same-sex marriage 45%-41%, that’s hardly outside of the margin of error. And as much as the National Organization for Marriage would like to believe, their $75k in mailers wasn’t the end-all-be-all of contributions from groups outside towards the district. In fact, according to OpenSecrets.org, Democratic-aligned groups spent $676,900 in the race – 88% of all money spent by outside groups.
I must say, I agree with one part of NOM’s press release last night — marriage is an issue that is not going away. They are correct. But they will see that the longer it remains an issue, the less support they will have. Frankly speaking, their demographics are dying off; much like the notch babies (that wasn’t very PC of me).
Had this race been closer, then I could easily see how marriage, Israel, and residency would have played a greater role. But with the Associated Press calling it an eight point victory for Turner, those are merely fringe issues.
As political guru Stu Rothenberg said to the Washington Post, “Make no mistake about it, the albatross around Weprin’s neck is named Obama, and Democrats who value honesty will tell you privately that the president’s 37 percent approval rating in the district is making it difficult for Weprin to win a race that in almost any other time would be a slam dunk.”
I now have two questions: (1) will we soon see a presidential trip to Israel or a State dinner on their behalf? And (2) does this now mean I am a Congressman? HA!