The next Scott Brown?


Following the 1994 elections, Democrats saw their electoral prospects improve by the summer of 1995, giving them hope for their eventual reversal of electoral prospects which allowed them to trim the GOP congressional majority and hold onto the White House.

The kind of early electoral gains that gave them hope then aren't happening now. Especially in a New York special election where polling is showing the growing potential for a GOP upset in the race to fill a long-time Democratic Congressional seat which had been held most recently by Anthony Wiener and Senator Charles Schumer.

The poll, obtained by Hotline on Call from a GOP source, shows Turner and Democrat David Weprin are tied at 42 percent apiece in the solidly Democratic Queens and Brooklyn-based district, with 16 percent still undecided ahead of the September 13 election.

It's a remarkable tightening, given the makeup of the district, which covers Queens and Brooklyn. Democrats hold a 133,000 voter registration edge in the district and President Obama defeated John McCain in 2008 by an 11-point margin. But in the Siena poll, Obama's unpopularity in the district stood at 52 percent, and in a July survey also conducted for Turner, Obama's disapprovals were at a similar 50 percent.

This contest seems to be driven by several things. First was the endorsemnt of Turner by long-time NYC Mayor Ed Koch, a Jewish Democrat disgusted with the Obama administration's treatment of long-time U.S. ally Israel. Second has been the district, which has been described as a "Harry Truman Democratic district", turned off by a combination of Obama policies and sour economy.

This race is the microcosm of a growing problem of weaking support for Obama and growing concern by Democrats nationallly, who - like last year - are bailing rather than face re-election in an increasingly-uncertain environment for Democrats:
The president’s dismal poll ratings, should they continue into next year, could sink Democratic hopes for reclaiming ground in the House and retaining control of the Senate — especially in battleground states and swing districts.

“If he is where he is now, it’s not going to work for Democrats,” said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., who opted earlier this year not to seek reelection in his competitive district.

Just as Scott Brown's upset Senate victory in one of the nation's most reliable Democratic strongholds in Massachusetts was the first major sign of a growing GOP wave in 2010, a GOP surprise win in New York could be the first sign that voter anger towards Democrats may not wane like in 1996.

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