Last night, the official Sex Scandal Special Elections took place in Nevada and New York. In Nevada’s 2nd congressional district there was a race to fill the seat left open when Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was appointed to the Senate to Replace Sen. John Ensign who, if you don’t remember, resigned from the Senate in April after getting into a sex scandal so shady it should’ve been on “Gossip Girl.” Despite his staff putting together several interventions, Ensign refused to end a three-year affair with the wife of his best friend and top political aide. Eventually, amid ethics violations on top of the affair going public, he bounced.
The 2nd District was a Republican stronghold, so Democrats pretty much expected that state Sen. Mark Amodei would defeat his Democratic opponent state treasurer Kate Marshall, though were probably disappointed that she was crushed by almost 21 points.
The most disturbing, though, for Democrats was the second Sex Scandal Special Election to replace former Representative Anthony Weiner after his little Twitter adventure earlier this year. Weiner, the New York liberal Democrat and political firebrand, became a parody when he sent pictures of his weener through Twitter to a woman who was not his wife. This story broke right before his wife was going on a foreign affairs trip as an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Glad I wasn’t in on that conversation.
With also the victory of Republican Bob Turner over David Weprin the urban New York 9th Congressional district is in GOP hands for the first time in decades.
When you combine the above races, they appear to be referendums on Obama, and given his lousy approval numbers that is not an unrealistic assessment. However I never put much stock in special elections as predictors of national moods, but more as indicators of the ground game held by each party. Consider that over the last eight years Republicans have lost 23 of 34 House special elections and that includes seven of eight races where the incumbent party changed.
The real concern for Obama isn’t that these were referendums on his presidency, which I think we can all agree is in trouble at this point, but more that reports out of New York are that the local labor unions essentially sat the race out in protest and disgust over the President’s lack of progress on jobs.
The GOP still doesn’t have a great record on special elections either. They lost one in Republican leaning upstate New York just earlier this year, but Obama’s got a serious problem on his hands if he doesn’t re-connect with his ground troops in labor and the far left. Even if he’s still leading Perry and Romney in national polls it’s the ground game that will make the difference in his re-election chances next year.
This article originally appeared in Loop21.com under the headline “Are New York, Nevada Democrat Lossess a Sign of Obama Trouble?”