Colin over at the Brooklyn Politics points us to his analysis of the race, which came out even before the first votes were cast but is pretty prescient on what went down last night:
- This district was never as Democratic as people thought it wasJust because Weiner was a liberal firebrand while yelling on MSNBC doesn’t mean that he had the same political brand when campaigning back home for reelection.
This is simply not an overwhelmingly progressive district, especially given the right circumstances. This was Michael Bloomberg’s best district in his 2009 reelection campaign, where he scored an astronomical 70% of the vote.
And things are trending away from the Democrats too! The district’s Russian and Orthodox Jewish populations have been trending hard to the Republican Party in recent election cycles(while the district’s Irish & Italians were already with the GOP).
So, yeah, the Democratic registration numbers are deceiving.
- The President ain’t popular in these partsDuring debates Turner tends to conclude by announcing that he’s only campaigning for half a term as the most junior member of a large legislative body… but then he transitions to say that this election matters because it can send a tangible message to President Obama.
The polls confirm that the president’s national Democratic brand is just weak in this district. Like it or not, this is a federal election and it’s more difficult for a candidate to craft a local brand given the circumstances.
And then you add to it Ed Koch, a very popular name in the district, holding event after event, doing robocalls, and TV interviews telling voters upset with Obama’s policies to make this election a referendum on the presidency?
- The Turner campaign’s professionalismSure, Turner has had his share of gaffes and whatnot, but his campaign staff has had relentlessly smooth operations, alternating between effective gimmicks and more seriousness communications to drive the news cycle to favor their candidate.
Case in point:
Weprin scored a coup with Councilman Koo (pun intended), a cross-party endorsement from a Republican Councilman with prominence in Queens’ Asian community.
Turner’s campaign, knowing that the endorsement was coming,PERFECTLY timed a fake endorsement announcement of Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich (who had already endorsed Turner) and effectively blunted a lot of the media momentum Weprin would have otherwise have received by generating anarrative of dueling GOP endorsements that day.
Update: Also, Turner’s folks have done a good job at positioning and deflecting attacks on Social Security & Medicare, which don’t seem to be resonating here as well as they did for Democrats in a recent Upstate special election.
- Weprin’s campaign stumblesUnlike the Turner campaign, the Weprin campaign strategy is occasionally quite perplexing.
Today they were protesting Donald Trump in Midtown instead of holding Labor/Asian/Latino GOTV rallies in the district as they probably should have been doing — every Democratic partisan & official I privately talked to about the Trump protest groaned in despair (at least those not directly involved in the campaign).
Previously, they sent out a press release about Wendy the Wizard endorsing their opponent, which was cute…except it distracted from their press release they sent out 32 minutes later announcing raising half a million dollars.
The best example of an unforced error, of course, was their odd decision to abruptly cancel a debate, generating plenty of negative coverage throughout every local & NYC-wide news outlet, as well as many national ones.
- Bob Turner is an appealing candidate. He’s got a gruff, plain-spoken persona that a lot of people find attractive for a political candidate.
He’s further helped by having run in the district before —while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money— building up at least some decent district-wide name recognition to help him in this compressed special election schedule.