Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Anthony Weiner's Old District, Signs of a Backlash against Obama?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Anthony Weiner's Old District, Signs of a Backlash against Obama?

Article excerpt

The special election to replace disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner takes place in a district that has a 3-to-1 Democratic advantage and has not been represented by a Republican since 1923.

Are the voters of Brooklyn and Queens about to send a message to President Obama and the Democrats?

In a closely watched special election to replace disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner (D), polls are showing a tight race between retired businessman Bob Turner, the Republican, and David Weprin, a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly. [Editor's note: The original version did not correctly list the current position of Mr. Weprin.]

Voters are casting their ballots Tuesday.

The reason the election is close is because of concern about the sluggish economy and unhappiness over Democratic policies, political scientists say. A turn to Mr. Turner - in a district that has a 3- to-1 Democratic advantage and has not been represented by a Republican since 1923 - might indicate that voters have become disenchanted with Mr. Obama's policies.

"This election should send a strong signal to the Democrats and the president," says Costas Panagopoulos, a political scientist at Fordham University in New York. "If the Democrats can't win in this district, that suggests big problems for the Democratic Party nationwide."

Indeed, the vote may be part of an anti-incumbent and anti- professional-politician shift taking place, says pollster Lee Miringoff of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. "Turner is a good candidate if you are looking to send a message, since Turner is not a career politician like Weprin."

The special election was necessary after Mr. Weiner, a seven- term congressman, in late May admitted to "sexting" - using Twitter to send nude photos of himself to various young women and carrying on racy online conversations. On June 16, Weiner, who is married, was forced to resign.

Although the Ninth District, which stretches from Brooklyn into Queens, has historically been heavily Democratic, Obama garnered only 55 percent of the vote in 2008, Mr. Miringoff points out. One reason: The district has gained more Russian Jewish residents, who tend to vote more conservatively. …

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