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Republicans Win Weiner’s Seat, Hold Heller’s

So, another good night for Republicans.

WaPo (“Republican Bob Turner wins New York special election“):

Businessman Bob Turner (R) defeated state Assemblyman David Weprin (D) in the special election for the House seat held by former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner (D).

Turner’s victory is regarded as an upset given the Democratic history of the 9th district, which takes in portions of Brooklyn and Queens, as well as the fact that President Obama carried the seat by 11 points in 2008.

“New Yorkers put Washington Democrats on notice that voters are losing confidence in a President whose policies assault job-creators and affront Israel,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) in a statement after Turner’s win.

Although the district may well be eliminated by Empire State line-drawers tasked with cutting down New York’s congressional delegation by two seat before 2012, the result will buoy Republicans hopes heading into 2012 and spur anxiety among Democrats.

Republicans also easily held a seat in Nevada’s GOP-heavy 2nd district, which has never elected a Democrat. State Sen. Mark Amodei (R) beat state Treasurer Kate Marshall (D) in a special election for the House seat left open by Sen. Dean Heller (R), who was appointed to replace Sen. John Ensign (R). Ensign resigned earlier this year over a scandal involving an aide.

I’m not much for reading the results of idiosyncratic open seat races as indicators of what will happen in the next election cycle and won’t start now. Still, had Democrats won the two seats, the spin this morning would be quite different.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. It’s not inconsequential. The last time a Republican held the New York seat was from 1921-1923. Realistically, though, this particular victory is likely to be a one-off thing and Bob Turner would be advised to not get a lease in DC that runs past January 2013.

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  2. Bob says:

    This may not be a seat Reps keep very long but if I was a Dem Senator up for reelection it would have me awake at night. The 2010 mood has not changed; that is the lesson of this special election. Dems that ignore it will pay dearly in 2012.

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  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    “New Yorkers put Washington Democrats on notice that voters are losing confidence in a President whose policies assault job-creators and affront Israel,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) in a statement after Turner’s win.

    This may not be a seat Reps keep very long but if I was a Dem Senator up for reelection it would have me awake at night.

    Everyone still remembers that Weiner tweeted dick pics to the world, right? I know its not exactly expert analysis, but I think more than any ‘mood’ of the country, its the fact that the democrat TWEETED DICK PICS TO THE WORLD!!

    (The caps was unnecessary, but I really like typing that Weiner tweeted dick pics to the world.)

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @Neil Hudelson: But Weiner wasn’t up for re-election; he resigned and another Democrat–who, so far as I know, has kept his private parts private–was running against the Republican who won it.

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  5. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    It’s difficult to believe a Republican could win a House District that includes Howard Beach and Sheepshead Bay, scandal or no scandal. Zombies are more sentient than voters in those two neighborhoods. Literally.

    In any event, special elections have to be taken with a huge grain of salt and usually they have no larger meaning. The exception is when the result of a special election diametrically is opposed to party registration and prior electoral results. It’s one thing for a party switch to occur in a 55-45 jurisdiction. It’s quite another thing for a party switch to occur in a 60-40 arena.

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  6. Jay Tea says:

    J.@James Joyner: Actually, private parts might have played a role. Weprin was hoping that his circumcised ones would sway voters, but their geography — his private parts live outside the district, along with the rest of him — was probably a bigger factor.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

    J.

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  7. mattb says:

    I wonder how much the Dem’s even invested into trying to retain Wiener’s seat given that it was lost due to a scandal (is there any evidence that those seats typically flip?) and that it will be eliminated next year?

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  8. Polaris says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    The exception is when the result of a special election diametrically is opposed to party registration and prior electoral results.

    Yes, like this one. I think it’s one leading indicator that PEW has it right, that the current electorate is like the 2010 electorate and not the 2008 electorate. I won’t read into it more than that.

    -Polaris

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  9. samwide says:

    Wonder what effect this had: New York GOP Sends “Ground Zero Mosque” Flier To NY-9 Voters?

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  10. Polaris says:

    @samwide:

    Wonder what effect this had: New York GOP Sends “Ground Zero Mosque” Flier To NY-9 Voters?

    According to Nate Silver (in the 538 blog in the NYT…and Silver is as far from a republican as you can get), the PVI for this race was R+18, i.e. based on past elections and the makeup of the district, Turner outperformed what normally would be expected for a republican in this district by 18 points. I am pretty sure than any impact this one effect might have had was not decisiive in light of this fairly massive shift. 18 point swings don’t come from gimmicks AFAICT.

    -Polaris

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  11. Fiona says:

    I tend to take these special elections with a grain of salt. In May, when Kathy Hochul (D) beat Jane Corwin (R) in a strongly Republican district of upstate NY, it was heralded as a voter rejection of Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system. Granted, Weiner’s district was a stronger Democratic stronghold, but I think the only thing this election tells us is that voters are unhappy and their sentiment can turn on a dime.

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  12. WR says:

    @Polaris: Six special elections in NY over the last couple of years. With one exception, they have all flipped parties, mostly R to D. Somehow I suspect the Polaris’ of the world weren’t writing about how those meant the end of the Republican party.

    Yawn.

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  13. Polaris says:

    Fiona and WR,

    I’d go read 538 today. I am not normally a fan of Nate Silver, but he factors all that in, and has some cogent things to say about special elections.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/for-democrats-its-2010-all-over-again/

    This is a rare case where i think Nate has it right.

    -Polaris

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  14. Fiona says:

    @Polaris:

    From Silver’s article:

    It’s certainly possible to read too much into special elections to the House. Over the long run, they have had a statistically significant correlation to the outcome of the next general election. But the relationship is weak and frequently runs in the wrong direction, as it did in 2010.

    Moreover, special elections aren’t a good barometer of the degree of anti-incumbent sentiment, since by definition they don’t feature incumbents on the ballot.

    In other words, while the results don’t bode well for Democrats, Silver still seems to be saying to take them with a grain of salt as to what they tell us about the presidential election. The electorate is pissy and volatile. A lot can happen between now and November 2012 to turn them one way or another.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @Fiona: I read Silver’s piece almost immediately after posting this–indeed, it occurred to me he’d have something to say data-wise on my off-the-cuff assertion–and that was my takeaway. The inclination is to treat these things as if they were some kind of national referenda rather than idiosyncratic, low turnout contests.

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  16. Racehorse says:

    First New York; next California.

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  17. Eric Florack says:

    There’s lessons to be learned, here.

    There’s a number of longtime held myths that this Turner race and it’s result blows sky high. The best way to do that is to look at what the winner in that race, Bob Turner, did during his campaign.

    First of all the old Tip O’Neil bromide that “all politics is local” just went out the window. Turner did not even mention local issues in his campaign. Rather, it was all national issues.Further, in that framework, and not once during his campaign, at least so far as I know, did Turner suggest he wanted to work with the Democrats and arrive at anything remotely resembling a ‘bipartisan solution’.During the campaign, Turner repeatedly… and loudly, said he would eliminate the US Department of Agriculture the EPA and reduce the size of the Department of Education. The stated aim, reducing spending at the federal level by some 35%.
    Turner made no secret of not wanting Amnesty for illegals.. Turner’s a Roman Catholic, and therefore is pro-life. He’s stated such loudly. He’s stated he supports the Defense of Marriage Act. He also wants Obamacare repealed. Doesn’t much sound like the bipartisan noises we’re supposed to be making, does it?

    I mean, look; We’re always told… mostly by the RINO crowd and by the left, (Granted, a repetition, anymore)…that if we speak out against liberals with the truth, we’d push independents right into the hands of the Democrats. And, of course, we’ll never win over Democrats themselves with such talk.

    Yet, look what happened: Turner, a staunch Conservative, won in landslide proportions in what is unarguably one of the most liberal sections of the country…. in a district held by Democrats for 90 some odd years… by the mere possession of a spine… standing up for his beliefs… IE;doing exactly what the CW says he’s not supposed to do…. And this proves exactly what I’ve said since Reagan. Not compromising your beliefs… standing up for them… is what conservatives should be doing.

    And The Democrats… and the RINO crowd with them, are downright despondent over this one. Turner has shown us the way… and I say again, this is the way I’ve been suggesting … and taking grief for… for well over a decade, now.

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