If Democrats held on to a congressional seat in New York since 1923 and the voters of that district favored every Democrat on their ballot except once (George Pataki) since the district was redrawn in 2002, the description of the district would be simple: It's a safe Democratic seat.
But one pol has blunted Occam's razor: Weston Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman. After Republican Bob Turner won the NY-9 seat vacated by Twitter lothario Anthony Weiner, Wasserman Schultz offered this analysis in the Wall Street Journal:
"It's a very difficult district for Democrats," she said, suggesting that it's less liberal than some other New York districts. Our fact-checking partners, Politifact, called the statement "silly."
"In this district, there is a large number of people who went to the polls tonight who didn't support the president to begin with and don't support Democrats -- and it’s nothing more than that," she told the New York Times.
Put those statements together, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz wins Politifact's "mostly false" badge. Read it here.
"Nothing more than that?" Hardly. Beyond the falseness of those statements, the election could be a leading indicator that Democrats are in trouble across the nation. Conservative Keith Appell of CRC Public Relations, who grew up in the district, summed the NY-9 upset this way with a nod to Frank Sinatra: "If you can lose Democrats can lose there, they can lose anywhere."
And, because Wasserman Schultz is the head of the Democratic Party and a go-to quote on the meaning and vagaries of the Jewish vote (a major bloc of NY-9), this loss falls on her as well. Consider: 60,000 people showed up to vote, compared to 200,000 in 2008. The old saw is true: Elections are all about turn out. And if her word can't be trusted regarding the Jewish vote there, then it inevitably re-opens the floodgates of the Obama's-got-a-Jewish-voter-problem story line.
The Democrats' spin about the NY-9 loss is also a lagging indicator: They've been in denial for weeks now. In talks with Obama partisans (paid and elected, namely), they've insisted up and down that he's not in trouble in the polls. But every survey so far shows he's falling to new lows. Whether this can be remedied or not will be seen over the next 14 months on the campaign trail, but (self?) deception and spin probably won't do the trick when public faith in politicians of all stripes is so badly shaken.
Even panicking might be a good idea, James Carville, the ragin' Cajun of the Clinton years, said on CNN
"People often ask me what advice I would give the White House about various things. Today I was mulling over election results from New York and Nevada while thinking about that very question. What should the White House do now? One word came to mind: Panic.