Republican Bob Turner will take Anthony Weiner’s seat in NY-09 tomorrow, according to the latest poll from Public Policy Polling, which has been deadly accurate so far this year. And the main reason for Turner’s success is a collapse in support for the President in this Brooklyn and Queens district, not necessarily a poorly run campaign by David Weprin.
Turner’s winning in a heavily Democratic district for two reasons: a huge lead with independents and a large amount of crossover support. He’s ahead by 32 points at 58-26 with voters unaffiliated with either major party. And he’s winning 29% of the Democratic vote, holding Weprin under 60% with voters of his own party, while losing just 10% of Republican partisans.
If Turner wins on Tuesday it will be largely due to the incredible unpopularity of Barack Obama dragging his party down in the district. Obama won 55% there in 2008 but now has a staggeringly bad 31% approval rating, with 56% of voters disapproving of him. It’s a given that Republicans don’t like him but more shocking are his 16% approval rating with independents and the fact that he’s below 50% even with Democrats at 46% approving and 38% disapproving. Obama trails Mitt Romney 46-42 in a hypothetical match up in the district and leads Rick Perry only 44-43.
Weprin actually has slightly positive favorables in the district, but he cannot overcome this sharply negative feeling toward the President, an outgrowth of the debt limit debate and the total collapse in faith in government as an institution that resulted. The American Jobs Act might put this on a slightly different footing, but that wouldn’t be reflected so quickly in a district like this, which has been trending slightly Republican and which is not terribly diverse (71% white).
The sample in the poll is the same as the voting percentage for Obama in 2008, which means that this reflects a change of views, not an enthusiasm gap. So you have voters in NY-09 who supported Obama coming out to vote for Turner.
Perhaps worse for the Democrats, with all the time put in to try and pull Weprin out of the fire in NY-09, they gave up on the other potentially competitive House special election tomorrow in NV-02. There, Republican Mark Amodei has a commanding lead, 50-37 over Democrat and state Treasurer Kate Marshall. PPP polled this a few weeks ago and found only a one-point lead for Amodei. But he massively outspent Marshall on TV, and the DCCC never met that challenge. They conserved their cash and paid more attention to the Weprin/Turner race. As a result, Marshall sunk.
Colin Campbell has a very good summary of how Turner is beating Weprin here. I have to say I discounted this more than I should have initially. As for whether it’s a 2012 bellweather, it is a unique district, with its heavy Russian and Orthodox Jewish concentration. But it’s not exactly a good sign.