Three of the last four people to hold New York’s Ninth Congressional District went on to bigger things:
- Geraldine Ferraro was the 1984 Democratic candidate for Vice President,
- Charles Schumer went on to the U.S. Senate, and
- Anthony Weiner showed us … things in his own way.
Tonight, the seat saw another historic moment when Republican Bob Turner became the first Republican candidate to win the seat since 1920, taking a seat which had gone two-to-one for Al Gore in 2000 and had been won by Republicans just five times since the Civil War.
Two time zones away, in Nevada, a race for an open GOP-held Congressional seat wasn’t even close, with Republican businessman Mark Amodei trouncing the Democratic State Treasurer.
While Amodei won a district with a strong GOP lean, Turner carried a seat described by Democrats as a “Harry Truman Democratic district” where an electorate with a strong Democratic registration edge (3-to-1), but more voters disapproved of President Obama’s performance than those who approved of it in recent surveys.
It didn't help that President Obama's handling of Israel and Middle East left him with lower approval ratings from Jewish voters (who make up a large part of the district's population) than even independent voters.
The New York race could be compared with other notable special election upsets which preceded wave election years for the GOP: twin 1993 upsets in the NJ Governor's race and NY Mayor's race, as well as a runway win for a Texas U.S. Senate seat and Scott Brown's pre-2010 upset Senate victory in Massachusetts.
If there’s any message in tonight’s election results, it’s that the Democrats didn't learn anything from 2010. Those Democrats who hoped to see signs of a post-2010 electoral turn-around upon which to base their hopes for Obama's re-election will have to keep looking.