The Democrats are in a panic over the potential loss of Anthony Weiner’s old seat. The NY-9, the Cook Report explains, has become less Democratic over time but still should be a safe seat:
Both parties in Washington hate the race in NY-09. Democrats are embarrassed that a New York City seat that gave Al Gore 67 percent in 2000, John Kerry 56 percent in 2004, and Obama 55 percent in 2008 (a worrisome trend line) is in play, and didn’t want to spend millions of dollars airing ads in the most expensive broadcast TV in the country to save a “safe seat.” Yet, the DCCC and the allied House Majority PAC have had to make late decisions to rescue [Democrat David] Weprin. Republicans love the potential story line of an upset or an unexpected close call, but are worried that full engagement in the race is a lose-lose proposition: they could either waste millions to fall short, or waste millions on a seat that would be an even clearer candidate for redistricting elimination if [Bob]Turner, 70, prevails.
Prior to the DCCC and House Majority PAC’s eleventh hour push, this was a rare race in which candidate spending, rather than outside group activity, dominated. In the final weekend, Weprin will substantially outspend Turner in an attempt to hold onto a lead that has, even by Democratic accounts, disappeared since a Global Strategy Group poll taken for the DCCC last week showed Weprin ahead 47 percent to 39 percent. According to one Democratic insider with access to the weakening numbers, “Election Day can’t come soon enough.” It may already be too late. In a seat dominated by ethnic whites quite culturally far apart from Manhattan elites, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Obama’s approval rating sits around 40 percent in both parties’ polling.
A new poll today shows that Weprin is in trouble:
With only four days until election, Republican Bob Turner appears to have gained major ground in his race against Democrat David Weprin, according to the Siena Research Institute poll. Turner now leads Weprin 50-44 among likely voters, in a dramatic reversal from last month, when Siena had Weprin up 48-42.
“Republican Turner heads into the final days of the campaign with a six-point lead in this heavily Democratic district after having trailed Democrat Weprin by six points just four weeks ago,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. “While Turner has an overwhelming 90-6 percent lead among Republicans, Weprin has only a 63-32 percent lead among Democrats, and Turner has a 38-point lead among likely independent voters. Currently, Turner enjoys a slightly larger lead among independent voters than Weprin has with Democrats. Weprin needs to find a way to win a larger share of Democratic and independent voters if he’s going to turn the race back around in the final days.”
The district, according to the poll, is 58 percent Democratic.
This would be a interesting race in any event, but what make it a fascinating one is the degree to which it reflects on Obama’s Israel policy and support among Jewish voters. In fact, Obama’s Israel policy has been one of the defining issues in the race, with Weprin struggling to disavow Obama’s stance toward the Jewish state. The Orthodox Union, “[g]iven the high number of Orthodox Jewish voters in the Ninth Congressional District,” asked the candidates to complete questionnaires. The answers are illuminating. The first question asks: “For over 15 years since the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the State Department has refused to bow to the will of Congress and the American people and move the US Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem, as required by law. Do you support the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011 (HR 1006) which will ensure the embassy is moved immediately?” In other words, do you repudiate the White House on this issue? Both candidates answered yes. Weprin felt compelled to go the extra mile and add: “I will co-sponsor this bill. As I wrote in my position paper on Israel, this will be one of my first pieces of legislation I will co-sponsor.” That’s how a pro-Israel Democrat feels about the Obama stance on Jerusalem.
The Siena poll is revealing. It should, for reasons I have discussed elsewhere, be taken with a grain of salt, given the difficulties of polling Jewish opinion. Nevertheless, in a sample of 886 voters, with 31 percent of the electorate identifying as Jewish, we can glean at least some insight. The findings suggest that Jewish voters in that district regard Obama pretty much like non-Jewish voters, that is — poorly. On the right track/wrong track question, 74 percent of the voters said the U.S. was on the wrong track; 76 percent of Jewish voters did. Obama’s approval/disapproval split among all voters in the district is 43 percent favorable/54 percent unfavorable; among Jewish voters it is 42 percent favorable/54 percent unfavorable.
Should Weprin lose, it will certainly send shivers down the spines of the Obama supporters and spinners, who have labored mightily to assure us that Israel policy is not a millstone around the president’s neck. And if Weprin sneaks by, the message will be that only by distancing yourself from Obama’s Israel policies can you keep the support of pro-Israel voters. At the very least, we will finally have some electoral data to tell us just how badly the president’s Israel policy is hurting him with Jewish voters.