Now that the dust has settled after Tuesday night's astonishing GOP sweep of two special Congressional elections, several trends have emerged that should disturb national Democrats. In the race that earned a huge amount of media attention, Democrats learned that President Obama's historically hostile posture toward Israel has registered with, and angered, many Jewish voters. The Examiner's Phil Klein explains:
As with any election, there was no doubt many factors contributing to this result, such as the weak economy. But a survey by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling taken days before the final votes were cast suggested that Obama's belligerent stance toward America's traditional ally of Israel played an important role. The PPP poll found that a 37 percent plurality of voters described Israel as "very important" in deciding their votes. Among those voters, Turner was leading 71 percent to 22 percent, and he was winning the Jewish vote by a 56 percent to 39 percent margin.
No doubt, many Jewish voters in the 9th district, which spans across parts of Brooklyn and Queens, are Orthodox, and thus relatively politically conservative compared with the broader, more secular, Jewish population. But that hasn't stopped Democrats from consistently winning the district in the past. The intensity of the anger toward Obama's Israel policies demonstrated in Tuesday's results should be a wake up call for the White House.
Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics also offers a detailed statistical analysis of Democrats' mounting struggles with white working class voters, as evidenced by the results in NY-09. No worries, though. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn't overly concerned:
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.
New York's Ninth Congressional District has been a very difficult district for Democrats...to lose, which they hadn't done since the early 1920's, prior to this week. In 2000, Al Gore barely squeaked past George W. Bush in the district by 37 percentage points. Barack Obama won it by double digits in 2008. But by all means, Debbie, please keep deluding yourself into thinking all of this has nothing to do with your party's failed policies. No course corrections necessary. Carry on.
As I wrote on Tuesday, despite all the hype in New York City, the race with the greater 2012 implications was out west in NV-02. Republican Mark Amodei won that contest in a massive blowout over a well-funded, twice-elected statewide office holder, and he did so by dominating Washoe County. Why should you care? Politico provides the context:
When Democrats lost Tuesday’s Nevada special election, they didn’t just lose a long-shot House race. They also got creamed in one of the most crucial swing counties in the nation. Washoe County, the Northern Nevada county that contains Reno, is the No. 1 bellwether in a top Western swing state.It was crucial to Harry Reid’s 2010 reelection, to Barack Obama’s 2008 election and to the countless governors, senators and presidents who have competed in the Silver State before them. And on Tuesday, Republican Mark Amodei won it by 10 points. It is almost universally true that as goes Washoe, so goes Nevada – and as goes Nevada, so goes the nation.The state has voted for the winner of every presidential race but one since 1912, giving it a stronger claim to bellwether status than Missouri.
Conservatives exulted over both special election triumphs this week -- after all, beating Democrats anywhere, especially in unexpected places, is great fun. But what should please conservatives even more is that the primary underlying condition that set the stage for both victories could augur much more political pain for Democrats in the coming election cycle. That condition? Deep and broad disillusionment with the President of the United States:
President Barack Obama's disapproval rating has reached a new high of 55% while the number of Americans who think he is a strong leader has dropped to a new low, 48%, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday. Only 39% approve of how he is handling unemployment, and just 36% approve of the way he is handling the economy, not surprising when more than eight in 10 think the economy is in poor shape.