Democrats aren't trying really hard to spin yesterday's loss in Anthony Weiner's old U.S. House seat. Yes, Weiner's bizarre sextexting scandal certainly didn't help Democrats, but in a congressional district so overwhelmingly Democratic -- since the 1920s, no less - a suitable Democrat should have held the seat with little trouble. Instead, veteran state legislator David Weprin lost handily to Republican rookie and retired businessman Bob Turner.
The reason? In a word, turnout. Only 22% of registered voters chose to turnout in yesterday's special, enabling Republicans, Republican-leaners, and the district's significant Orthodox Jewish population to have disproportionate impacts on the election outcome.
Republican Turner very smartly focused his campaign on two issues: the economy, or Barack Obama's abysmal handling of the economy, and Israel, or Barack Obama's insistence that Israel return to its 1967 borders (suicidal for Israelis).
The real take-away for 2012 is that Democrat voters and Democrat-leaners are a dispirited bunch. Mr. Obama's job approval (handling the economy) hovers in the mid to high thirties in the New York district. If the economy doesn't turnaround pronto - a very unlikely possibility - large segments of the Democrat base may just take a pass on voting in the 2012 general elections. Such would present the GOP with more conversion opportunities in House and Senate races than is now conceivable.
Democrats are already grumbling about Mr. Obama being an electoral albatross in 2012. Expect that grumbling to increase. The question is: when will panic set in among Democrats, and what does that mean to Mr. Obama's re-election bid?