House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said a possible GOP upset in Tuesday’s special election for a House seat in New York would be an “unprecedented win” and more evidence of voter dissatisfaction with the direction of the country under President Obama.
“Certainly attitude and approval ratings of the president have a lot to do with” it, Cantor told reporters in the Capitol. “People are very unhappy with the economy right now.”
The House now has a wide Republican majority, but picking up the longtime Democratic seat in New York’s 9th District would be a further loss for Democrats as both parties struggle with dismal voter approval ratings heading into next year’s election.
During the daily press briefing at the White House on Monday, spokesman Jay Carney downplayed the importance of the special election and pushed back at the suggestion that a GOP win would constitute a referendum on the president’s policies, particularly involving Israel.
The Brooklyn-area district was held by more than a decade by former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, the liberal firebrand who resigned this year after acknowledging he had sent inappropriate text messages to women.
But Republican candidate Robert Turner, the creator of “The Jerry Springer Show,” has made gains over Democratic state Assemblyman David Weprin, with polls showing a narrowed gap heading into Tuesday’s election.
A special election is also underway in Nevada, where voters Tuesday will decide between Democrat Kate Marshall and Republican Mark Amodei in the largely Republican seat that had been held by Dean Heller. Heller was appointed to the Senate after Republican Sen. John Ensign also resigned after an ethics investigation involving his affair with a former staffer who was the wife of his chief of staff and the $96,000 payment the senator’s parents gave the couple.
Republicans expect to retain the Nevada seat.