The Democratic National Committee put out a statement this evening which claimed that the deadlocked result of the House special election in a Republican district in New York proves that the public supports President Obama and his agenda.
“Last night’s Special Election in New York’s 20th Congressional District, while still too close to call, is further proof that the public supports President Obama, his jobs and economic recovery plan and the overall direction he is leading the country. Murphy’s lead following yesterday’s balloting shows that the Republican Party has no new ideas, is tied to the failed policies of the past and that it is in disarray and faces an uphill battle in local and state elections in 2009 and 2010,” the DNC memo said.
It also pointed out that this special election became a referendum on Obama’s leadership during the economic crisis, “This race became a referendum on President Obama and his leadership of the country and handling of the economy. Murphy’s showing in an overwhelmingly Republican district is affirmation of the direction the President is leading the country.”
There is no good way to spin last night’s result for the Republican Party. This is a district that had gone Democratic in nearly three decades until the pro-gun conservative Democrat Kristen Gillibrand was able to beat a scandal plagued Republican in the Democratic year of 2006.
Republicans have a voter registration advantage of 42%-26%, and Democratic presidential candidates have not done well there. Al Gore only got 47.5% of the vote in 2000. John Kerry did even worse by only getting 46% in 2004. Barack Obama did carry this district in 2008, but he only won 51.5% of the vote.
This is a district that Republicans should have had no problem winning, but I don’t know if this is really a vote of confidence in the Obama agenda. What last night’s result does demonstrate is how much political momentum in this country has shifted to the Democratic Party. Democrats are now competitive in districts where they used to stand no chance.
Even though the Republicans may end up winning the election after the absentee ballots are counted, the big loser last night was RNC Chairman Michael Steele who campaigned twice in the district for Jim Tedisco. Steele also had the RNC spend $800,000 in the district, and if the Republicans don’t win the seat this may not bode well for Steele’s future as RNC chairman. There were already reports that Steele’s future could hang on a victory in the 20th District. To me, the only thing this election proves is that the Democratic momentum remains strong at the polls. I don’t think that this will be changing anytime soon.