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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

19th nervous breakdown (for the GOP)

A funny thing happened on the way to the revolution: A Democrat won the first race for a House seat since national health care reform was enacted.

That Ted Deutch was victorious in Tuesday's special election in Florida's 19th Congressional District is no great surprise. This is, after all, a liberal district (Broward and Palm Beach counties) that long has had Democratic representation in the House, including that of Rep. Robert Wexler, whose retirement opened the seat.

But Deutch didn't just beat Republican Ed Lynch; he trounced him — 62 percent to 35 percent in a district where only 49 percent of registered voters identify themselves as Democrats.

This race should have been much closer, or even a victory for the GOP candidate, especially at a time when Fox News, all the right-wing radio loudmouths and countless Tea Party kooks insist this year's congressional elections will be a mandate against Democratic-backed heath care reform and that Republicans will oust dozens of Democratic incumbents who supported the legislation.

Also worth noting is the largest demographic is the Florida 19th is senior citizens, the group that we've been told is most angry about health care reform. If that's the case, how did the Democrat manage to win Tuesday's election, and by such an overwhelming margin?

The truth is that America, as a whole, is not nearly as angry or as anti-Democrat/anti-Obama as a few sign-toting protesters who get a disproportionate amount of TV coverage would have us believe.

Yes, there's dissent in this country. Yes, there's anger in some circles. And yes, there's likely to be some backlash against the congressional majority in the November elections. But Tuesday's election in Florida, serving as the first indicator of things to come, suggests to me that the backlash will be far less dramatic than overly optimist conservatives expect.



Blogger Martin McPhillips said...

In that Florida district, in 2008, Wexler won with 66% of the vote. Lynch was his Republican opponent and got 27%.

The last three presidential elections have that district going Gore 71%, Kerry 66%, Obama 65%.

The district consistently votes two-thirds for Democrats.

I think that there are a lot of old Stalinists from Brooklyn living there.

April 14, 2010 at 5:34 PM 
Blogger Jeremy Schiffres, City Editor said...

What you're saying, Martin, is that Deutch received a typical percentage of votes for a Democrat in this district. Which begs the questions: Where's all the alleged backlash that's supposed to flatten the Democrats this year? You've simply proven my point that Democrats probably are safe in Democratic districts.

April 15, 2010 at 1:47 AM 
Blogger Martin McPhillips said...

There are safe seats. With voters going two-thirds for Democrats as a matter of routine, this appears to be one of them.

Congressional Districts are more often than not drawn to get exactly that effect, which is why out of 435 seats, all of them up every two years, the number that are "in play" is usually less, far less, than a hundred. This was not one of those. In fact, in several of his races, Wexler ran unopposed.

The three backlash races so far have been in Virginia and New Jersey (governors) and the Senate race in Mass.

What will happen in November? No one knows, but if there is a backlash in the House it could see 50 or more seats switch from Democrat to Republican. That's big, but only roughly one-fifth of the seats Democrats currently hold.

Safe districts like the one in Florida are safe for a reason -- despite the 49% Democratic registration you note, it reliably votes 66% Democratic. If my late mother-in-law, rest her soul, who lived in that district, was indicative of the typical voter, many of them might not have ever known a Republican, unless from a distance. That's the old ward politics of Brooklyn transposed to Boca.

April 15, 2010 at 7:35 AM 
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April 17, 2010 at 12:30 AM 

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