Abandoning your base is never a good re-election strategy
By now you’ve probably heard that Anthony Weiner’s seat in a solidly Dem district has been won by a Republican. The Washington Post has it here. They were kinda rough on POTUS, referring to him as an albatross. I know this district very well. I grew up in Queens and belonged to a Dem Club that covered this CD and Gary Ackerman’s CD. This is the area that sent Geraldine Ferraro to Congress (my first Congressional campaign). The main thoroughfare from Kew Garden to Forest Hills is Queens Blvd. There are sections that have park benches and people tend to use them when the weather is warm, such as in the run up to an election.
I remember leafleting along there for a candidate for a local office that did not have any foreign policy roll whatsoever, and all the voters wanted to know about was the candidate’s position on Israel. I assume Ed Koch knows this bit of trivia as well and picked his shot well to make his endorsement of the Republican Turner his way to “send a message” to President Obama about support for Israel. It’s funny, b/c the Dem who lost, David Weprin,is an Orthodox Jew who fully supports Israel, yet he did not receive the endorsement of the Orthodox clergy. He is also the son of a long time Speaker of the Assembly and enjoys great name recognition.
However, I don’t think Israel is really what cost Weprin the election, oddly the Koch gambit may have given the DNC some cover to try to spin the loss. I truly believe that this is solely and completely the result of Dem leadership, primarily at the WH, repeatedly dissing the base and not being stronger on stimulus.
“I am a registered Democrat, I have always been a registered Democrat, I come from a family of Democrats — and I hate to say this, I voted Republican,” said Linda Goldberg, 61, after casting her ballot in Queens. “I need to send a message to the president that he’s not doing a very good job. Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”
This is NYC! The bluest electorate on earth! Being a Dem in Queens is a secular religion for goodness sakes. If you have lost Queens Dems, you have lost the party.
Understand, I’m not an Obama basher. I worked my tail off for him in 2008. I did hundreds of hours of free legal work, writing brief bank points, doing model motion papers, teaching CLE courses to election monitors. I was even his litigation person for NYS on Election Day.
I just don’t know how to break through this bubble of denial, this alternate reality; that the WH, the campaign and the DNC seem to be trapped in. I have been to meetings where folks have tried to tell very high level people in the campaign and DNC that the constant betrayal of the base is a real and dangerous problem. The response is always that confronted with some crazy teabagger from the GOP where else will a Dem vote go? They don’t get it. The Dem vote won’t go to the GOP, it will just stay home.
It’s politics 101, before you worry about picking up swing votes, you first have to nail down and motivate the base. Queens voters have just demonstrated that the base is not coming out.