A little bit of a relapse today, so let me just grab three pretty-good analyses of yesterday's NY-09 results* from RCP and go with them. First off: Michael Barone's "NY-9: Stunning Repudiation of Chuck Schumer." After noting that disgraced Congressman Weiner was a protege of Schumer, Barone points out:
In January 2007, just in time for the new Democratic majority in Congress, [Shumer] published a book, Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time. It is a thoughtful essay on how Democrats can win the votes of the kind of voter Schumer himself has won over in his career as a congressman and senator, with specific policy recommendations as well as public relations advice. As one of the three Democratic leaders of the Democratic majority in the Senate—and by common reckoning the one who outshines in intellect the other two put together—Schumer has played an important role in fashioning Democratic policies, including but not limited to the 2009 stimulus package and Obamacare.
This vote is a startling repudiation of those policies by just the voters Schumer was hoping to win over.
As well it should have been: I respect Michael Barone and everything, but 'smarter than Gillibrand & Reid[**]' isn't precisely hard and I suspect that voters have a bit longer memories about statements like 'porky little amendments' than Schumer might wish to admit. Personally, I still think that Schumer was vulnerable in 2010 - oh, well, that ship has sailed. It's certainly true that the Democrats have a problem with blue-class workers these days.
Which segues us to Josh Kraushaar's "Rethinking the 2012 Landscape." Josh looked into what is the increasingly-frantic conventional wisdom of the Online Left - 2012 will be an anti-incumbent year - and finds it, well, not supported by the most recent special elections:
Tuesday’s special elections for two House seats, one in New York and one in Nevada, are starting to put the picture in clearer focus—and it’s not good for Democrats. Democrats lost a deeply-Democratic New York City district that had been in party hands for nearly a century, and they lost by over 20 points in a congressional race in the battleground state of Nevada, a contest that once promised to be a bellwether because of the GOP’s positioning on Medicare.
Put simply, Obama and Republicans in Congress are both unpopular—and voters are taking out their anger on Democrats—even in a reliably Democratic district.
One thing to note here is that Josh does go into the NV-02 election a bit, which is probably best: the NY-09 special election must inevitably be compared to the NY-26 special election, which I am starting to suspect teaches a false lesson to Democrats about using Medicare as a wedge issue. Not to get into it too deeply, but NY-26 may have been more on the issue of the dangers of fusion tickets, not to mention the dangers of letting your party's former Congressman go shirtless on Craigslist and advertise for adultery. Judging from the results from NV-02 as compared to NY-09, not having the second problem wins you elections; not having either wins you elections big-time.
Lastly, we have a picture from Sean Trende's "New York-9 and the Democratic Coalition." It's a pretty picture.
It's a picture of NY-09, which is what you get as a side-effect when you have to draw majority-minority districts. The color scheme: Red for white neighborhoods; Green for Latino; Blue for African-American. Stu Rothenberg floated a rumor yesterday that the Democrats pumped money into this race because it was worried about having to find another district to put on the chopping block; that sounded weird at the time, but look at that map and you'll see why it may not have been. To put it simply: hack up this district, and you have to contort the surrounding ones even more. Ain't racial gerrymandering grand?
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*From what I can tell, the unspoken consensus about the NV-02 results were "Man, but the Democrats pretty much were completely useless there. I mean, they didn't even try, really."
[**I have had it pointed out in comments here that I read this wrong; Barone was referencing the Senate leadership in general, not the NY Senate leadership and the Senate Majority Leader. This is true... but "smarter than Durbin and Reid" is no more of an accomplishment for Schumer, so (luckily) my point remains valid.]