Rep. Anthony Weiner's, D-N.Y., resignation from the 9th Congressional District seat appears certain to trigger the fifth New York special election in three years. So after bungling three straight races in GOP-leaning districts upstate, do Republicans have any hope of pulling an upset in a Democratic-leaning district in the middle of New York City?
Unlike other recent New York special elections held upstate, the race would be dictated more by the tribal allegiances of city politics than by the national landscape or partisan considerations. The 9th, a traditionally Jewish district stretching from central Queens to southern Brooklyn, is by far the least Democratic seat held by a Democrat in the city: It gave President Obama only 55 percent of the vote in 2008 and at a Cook Political Report PVI of D+5, it is actually less Democratic than NY-26 is Republican.
The race will provide far from a fair appraisal of the landscape heading into 2012 not only because of the tribal nature of city politics, but especially because it will take place amid the uncertainty of redistricting. Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul's victory in NY-26 is instructive of the danger in drawing conclusions about redistricting as soon as shirtless photos of an incumbent create a vacancy. The special election to succeed Weiner starts off in the Likely Democratic column.
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