It’s Ground Hog Day for the White House. And the ramifications are being felt like Washington’s second earthquake in a month.
Last week the president unveiled a $450 billion jobs bill. Last night in New York, the nation’s most reliable liberal congressional district rejected President Obama, voting for a Republican for the first time since 1923. Most disturbing for White House political advisers was that the loss occurred with Jewish voters abandoning the Democratic Party for an unknown Republican. Indeed, the president has a “Jewish problem.”
Another special election in Nevada last night also turned in favor of Republicans as Democratic strongholds did not come out in favor of the Democrat. Nevada will be a key “must win” state for the president.
And polls show Americans continue to express deep pessimism about the future.
Sound familiar? It is a reprise of 2009, when Barack Obama, sagging in the polls, lost liberal New Jersey and Massachusetts to unknown Republican candidates. At the time, the president did not “pivot” after the losses and he lost big in last November’s midterm elections.
One week after the president delivered a speech before a special session of Congress, the defeat has to count as another rebuke to the president’s performance.
This morning Politico reported that the mood among Democrats is morose: “On a high-level campaign conference call Tuesday afternoon, Democratic donors and strategists commiserated over their disappointment in Obama. A source on the call described the mood as ‘awful.’ ‘People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless.’”
Democrat Minority Whip Steny Hoyer conceded to Politico that the twin electoral losses last night would be regarded as a rejection of the president: “Do I think it will be interpreted as being a statement on Obama? That’s probably correct.”
Bloomberg this morning also reports on the darkening mood of the electorate: “Pessimism Surges as 72% See U.S. Economy on Wrong Course,” reports Mike Dorning. “Just 9 percent say they are confident the economy won’t slide back into recession, in a Bloomberg National Poll.”
But it was the huge upset in New York that was most remarkable. It was a 54-46 Republican landslide victory in New York’s 9th congressional district, which was vacated by uber-Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner after his sex scandal. My colleague Jennifer Rubin this morning notes that this is a double dose of bad news for the president. New York-9 is not only the most reliably Democratic district in the nation — it is the most Jewish congressional district too.
This vote now proves Obama has a real “Jewish problem.” Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks said the vote was a warning to Obama stalwarts who refuse to see the writing on the wall. He said the bruising loss in New York contains “huge implications for 2012 races in states with large Jewish communities, such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
Still Democrats at the top still don’t seem to get it. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the New York Times there are no worries: “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.”