The non-existent proxy value of special elections
This Politico piece on NY-9 is, mostly, pretty good! It describes the determining factors in the special election to replace Representative Weiner, and why there’s a solid chance of a Republican winning a surprise upset in a heavily Democratic district. The answer? Turns out it’s a combination of poor campaign management by a complacent Democrat, and ceaseless Republican hammering over Israel in an extremely Jewish district. It’s an example of the way that Politico really has improved its reporting over the past couple years.
However, none of this proves diddly about Obama’s re-election prospects, which in a typically Politico way is what is used to frame the entire article. The race has revolved a parochial issue that is extremely high-salience in a very Democratic area, and extremely low-salience in the vast majority of the country. Even if one subscribes, as the media like to, to the idea that low-turnout special elections hold some sort of predictive power (Scott Brown!), NY-9 is a highly unusual district hosting a highly unusual race.