Following the loss of Anthony Weiner’s onetime congressional district in New York’s special election, Demcratic National Committee Chairperson Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ran damage control during a DNC conference call on Wednesday. They dismissed the idea that Democrat David Weprin’s loss to Republican Bob Turner had implications for 2012 or for Democrats retaining the Jewish vote, despite Republicans insisting that the results in the heavily Jewish district portend a political shift of Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party.
“Anyone who tries to extrapolate between what happened in this district and what would happen in New York City, new York state, or the country is making a big mistake,” said Schumer, who once represented NY-9 as a House member. “It is among the most conservative districts in New York City.”
Schumer has a point. The district isn’t as liberal as Weiner’s reputation might have suggested, having gone for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 before going for Obama in 2008. That doesn’t mean the special election sin’t a bad omen for Democrats in 2012. As Ezra Klein writes, there is a fairly strong connection between special elections and subsequent general election results—even if that relationship doesn’t automatically suggest defeat for Obama.
Asked whether the outcome in NY-9 suggests that Jews will start voting Republican, Wasserman-Shultz said that that wasn’t going to happen. “Democrats have consistently received the Jewish vote and will again,” she said. “This president, because of his incredibly strong record on Israel and strong record on domestic issues important to the Jewish community, he and Democrats up and down the ballot will receive an overwhelming majority of the Jewish vote once again.”
GOPers are eager to spin NY-9 as a sign Jewish voters are finally going to start leaning Republicans. But as Ben Smith points out, the Jewish community in NY-9 is more Orthodox and conservative than the Jewish population as a whole. At the same time though, the worse the economy gets, the more likely Jewish voters are to vote against the president for the same reason non-Jewish voters will.