September 17, 2019

House Jewish Projection: Adding Bishop vs. Altschuler

Last week we posted our first House Projection – one of the items in the new J -Meter, in which we follow races with a Jewish contender, and project the number of ‎Jewish House members after the next election. As we’ve explained, we expect the ‎number of Jewish representatives to go down to 24 following the 2012 November ‎election, from the 27 elected in 2010. ‎

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Obviously, when such assessment is published, objections arise. And while not many ‎disputed most of what we’ve been saying, a complaint was issued from Republican ‎Jewish quarters over our decision not to include the NY-01 race as one in which ‎potential for Jewish representation exists. New York’s First District is one in which a ‎Jewish Republican contender, Randy Altschuler, was very narrowly beaten in 2010 by ‎the current Congressman Tim Bishop, and is running again. About a month ago, the ‎New York Times described this race as “problematic” for Democrats:‎

On Long Island, Mr. Bishop, a five-term Democrat, is girding for a rematch with ‎Randy Altschuler, a successful Republican businessman who nearly defeated the ‎congressman in 2010. Mr. Altschuler is an aggressive campaigner, having spent ‎‎$2.9 million of his own money in 2010. Mr. Altschuler got a lift recently when he ‎received the endorsement of the Independence Party. That could make a ‎difference, Republicans say, given that Mr. Altschuler lost to Mr. Bishop by a slim ‎margin in the moderate district, which stretches across the eastern half of Long ‎Island.‎

There are a couple of things to consider regarding this race and its significance to ‎our House Projection:‎

‎1.‎ Criteria: As we specifically state on the House Projection page, we decided to ‎only include in our list races of sitting Jewish legislators, races ranked as ‎Toss-Up, races in which the incumbent is leaving, races in which the ‎incumbent is likely to lose (in most cases, we used the ranking from the Cook ‎Report) or races in merged and new districts. The NY-01 race doesn’t really ‎match the criteria: It is ranked by the Cook Report (April 26, 2012) as “lean ‎Democratic”; the current Congressman isn’t leaving, the district is not new. ‎

‎2.‎ Competitiveness: On the other hand, this race is clearly more competitive ‎than many other races. Election Projection ranks it as “weak Dem hold”. ‎Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranks it a “lean” Democratic, the weakest possible ‎tendency towards one of the sides – but not yet a toss up. And most relevant: ‎The Rothenberg Political Report ranks it as “pure toss up”.‎

‎3.‎ Polls: There aren’t many, but according to one recent (Bishop commissioned) ‎poll, Bishop seems to be leading the race. Can it be believed? No. But we also ‎don’t have any good evidence with which to counter it.‎

‎4.‎ Primary: This race is not yet finalized. While Altschuler seems to have an ‎advantage, he is not yet the candidate and is challenged for the right to run ‎against Bishop. ‎

‎5.‎ Party: Why Jewish Republicans are warily eyeing this race is obvious: It is ‎their only real chance (as of now) to have a second Jewish House member ‎following the 2012 election. We projected that Rep. Eric Cantor will remain ‎the sole Jewish Republican in the House.‎

Bottom line: Based on all the above evidence and commentary, we feel that this race ‎does deserve more attention than other races we decided not to include in our ‎projection. Thus, it has been added to our table of House candidates. However – and ‎this is an important however – we also decided not to currently change our overall ‎projection of expected Jewish seats in the House. Namely, we add Altschuler to the ‎list, but are far from convinced that he will be winning this race.  ‎