13 September 2011

Dems may lose NY9 special election; who else will?

Republicans are poised to gloat over the expected results of a special election today to fill the seat surrendered by the disgraced Democrat Anthony Weiner, who represented New York's 9th Congressional District. Long considered a safe "blue" district, it has seen a surge of support for the Republican candidate Bob Turner, who has taken the lead in the latest opinion polls. Analysts attribute this to everything from disgust with Weiner to disgust with President Obama. Meanwhile, depending on how close the actual vote proves, Socialist Worker candidate Chris Hoeppner may emerge as a "spoiler" for the Democrats. Defying the long odds set when Gov. Cuomo called a quick election to replace Weiner, Hoeppner quickly gathered the signatures needed to appear on the ballot, and has appeared in at least some of the candidate debates -- though not all, as this somewhat sympathetic profile proves. While many pre-election reports note that Hoeppner is getting "just" 3-4% in opinion polls, that's probably much more than any candidate with "socialist" in his party name has gotten in a poll in a while. Here's a relevant excerpt from WNYC's "Empire" blog:

He says he doesn’t have anything personally against either candidate, but sees them as indistinguishable on the majority of issues.
“There’s not any fundamental difference,” he said — and that goes for everyone, including President Obama. He said the campaign, for him, is about raising the broader issues facing workers, and encouraging people to get more directly involved in a social struggle he sees as inevitable.
“They want us to bare [
sic] the brunt of the crisis they crated, the capitalist [sic],” he said as we turn off Cross Bay towards the debate at St. Barnabas Church. “Workers didn’t create it, yet they’re cutting our hospitals, our schools, our pay.”
Hoeppner says he’s opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and against the bailouts of the financial system. He says he’s for a smaller government, devoid of a bloated bureaucracy. He considers health care a fundamental right, opposes Obama’s immigration policies in favor of full legalization “for the unity of the working class,” and wants to protect the social safety net against any cuts, from anyone.
“When I got out in campaign in Forest Hills, in Sheepshead Bay, people don’t want to talk to me if I say I’m a politician. I have to explain to them, I’m not a politician like you know,” Hoeppner said. “I work as a machine operator inspector in an electronics plant. I’m not a banker; I’m a worker, OK? And I’m a socialist, and then I say, I’m for jobs, fighting for jobs.”
We park and talk for a bit. I’m told I and other reporters are behind because we get caught up on the perception that people don’t like the word “socialist.”
“That’s not a barrier,” Hoeppner said. “The crisis is so deep that people are looking for an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.”

Not so many people are looking right now, given the poll numbers, but the early signs of a coming trend will likely be hard to see. It will be a significant achievement if Hoeppner's vote total matches his poll numbers, but if that happens, and if the Republican wins by a margin smaller than the Socialist Worker vote, prepare for a firestorm of Democratic rage directed at the independent candidate, who would then be accused of throwing the election to the forces of reaction. Like Republicans, Democrats want Americans to think that when their party loses, everyone loses. Apart from who actually wins today's election, the vote in the 9th District may measure how many Americans have decided that they lose whether a Democrat or a Republican wins. It may be that many Americans believe that already, if that's why people don't vote -- but a decent turnout for a Socialist Worker or any third party would be an encouraging sign that some Americans are willing to do something positive about it.

Bonus: here's the post from d. eris's Poli-Tea blog that tipped me off to what Hoeppner was up to.

Update, Sept. 14: Apparently those polls took unrepresentative samples, or else the support professed for Hoeppner was purely moral. The latest numbers show him getting less than 1% of the vote, while Turner cruised to victory. As predicted, the result is being read as a repudiation of Democratic economic policies, but some sources suggest that, if any third party influenced the election, it was the Zionists. I don't know whether this is a presumption based on the district's demographics, or if exit polling will confirm the assumption that foreign policy was a major issue. I can actually imagine Democrats spinning it that way just to deny that economic policy did them in this time. In any event, I assume that Mammon, not Yahweh, is the favored god of that district this year.


TiradeFaction said...

Wasn't Weiner more economically to the left than more influential "Blue dog" (or whatever) Democrats in Congress? Just thinking if that's true, that might have played into why a left wing third party wouldn't make much of a dent, even by US standards.

Though tbh, I doubt any group calling themselves "socialist" will ever rise to much in the US again, the word as simply been too villified.

Samuel Wilson said...

TF: Recent reports try to label NY9 a "more conservative" district, despite Weiner's success there. This presumed conservatism seems to be based on religion -- the district being heavily Jewish and Catholic.

Regrettably, you're probably on the mark regarding "socialism's" prospects in this country. Not even the inevitable re-villification of capitalism will redeem the word for many people.

TiradeFaction said...

That's interesting, it's often claimed (perhaps erroneously?) that American Jews typically are more on the left, at least socially. This would make some sense, given their minority status, but from my experience, they often tend to be less religious in comparison than other religious demography. Is this district more orthodox Jewish?

As for socialism, I'm not saying that with any particular enthusiasm, just my analysis of the situation. Though maybe we should keep in mind what Upton Sinclair said "The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to 'End Poverty in California' I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them."

Also, interestingly enough, one of the only two socialists elected to federal office, Meyer London, was thrown out successful by a Jewish constituency, apparently over his lack of support for annexation of Palestinian land in modern day Israel.

TiradeFaction said...

For the record, I'm not a socialist myself, but I have broad sympathy for various economically left wing to left of centre views.

hobbyfan said...

I don't pay much attention to primaries, and based on what was written in the NYC press going in, Turner was a slam dunk. That they got Bill Clinton to do robocalls for Weiner reeked of desperation.

In an unrelated note, there's not a shred of truth to the rumor that Weiner is accepting a job as a spokesman for----wait for it---Oscar Meyer.