Yesterday Salon's Justin Elliot analyzed the Turner campaign's decision to rehash the Ground Zero mosque controversy in the ad that's about to hit cable stations in Brooklyn and Queens. Elsewhere the decision has draw criticism, not just for being "embarrassing" but as a bad political move, as made evident by Carl Paladino's abysmal showing in the last gubernatorial race.
Elliot makes the argument that the decision to go with the ad is another pitch to the Jewish community in the district, and points to the Siena poll about Jewish support in this race compared to Obama's overall Jewish support in 2008. I read the Siena poll results differently and would point out that the Jewish population in the 9th is considerably more conservative than what you find in retirement communities in Florida or in suburban Boston. You have a large number of newly immigrated Russian-speaking Bukharian Jews who are, as one observer put it, still fighting the Cold War. They are added to an already conservative Orthodox community that leans Republican. Obama supporters they are not.
So while having 56 percent of likely Jewish voters supporting Weprin might not seem so hot, it's actually a pretty good showing. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if that number is higher in the next poll.
That being said, I don't think the Turner ad will move many Jewish voters. But what it could do--and this is far more likely to be why it's being aired--is whip up the Tea Party-esque sentiments in the southern part of the district. Special elections are much more like primaries than general elections. Taking a page from the Paladino campaign--who rode Tea Party enthusiasm to win the nomination--makes sense.
The Turner camp is hoping to fire-up folks in Brooklyn's Mill Basin and the Rockaway peninsula--the type of voters who helped propel Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich to victory during the 2009 special election. In a game that's all about energizing your base, Turner's inflammatory ad is a smart move. He has continued to build up considerable momentum, from the Koch endorsement on, and is within surprising striking distance of his opponent. The campaign--and its ads--might not be pretty, but it's working.