Elections watch: NY special down to the wire; Nevada heats up

In this Sept. 10, 2009 file photo, David Weprin participates in a debate for the office of comptroller, in New York. Weprin, 55, a Queens assemblyman, has been chosen by Democratic leaders as their candidate to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned last month after a sexting scandal. Weprin will compete for the 9th district Congressional seat in a special election Sept. 13. Pool, File,AP Photo/Ken Goldfield

Bob Turner and David Weprin
Republican Bob Turner, at left, and Democrat David Weprin, at right, are competing in the special election on Sept. 13, 2011 for New York's 9th congressional district.
CBS/AP

N.Y.-9: Parts of Brooklyn and Queens

Today voters in New York's 9th congressional district, including parts of Brooklyn and Queens, go to the polls in a special election to fill the House seat vacated when Democrat Anthony Weiner resigned.

Republicans are hoping for a pick-up in this Democratic-leaning, New York City district. A recent Siena poll late last week has Republican Bob Turner leading Democrat David Weprin.

A Republican win, if it were to happen, would be notable here, just as the recent Democratic win in the special election for upstate New York's 26th district made headlines earlier this year. The 9th district has been reliably Democratic -- though the GOP's opening stems partly from the fact that NY-9 doesn't always vote as heavily Democratic as, for example, its neighboring districts in the city. (President Obama carried it with 55 percent in 2008; compare that, for instance, with a near-90 percent showing in two next-door districts.)

Demographically it is mostly white, and it also has a relatively large number of conservative voters. Democrats hold a large registration edge (over 180,000 to just under 60,000 Republicans) -- but registration can mean less in special elections, with lower turnout, where enthusiasm on one side can close a gap more easily than it can in a general election.

Turner and the Republicans are looking to nationalize the vote and make this a referendum on Mr. Obama. Turner has endorsements from former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch, with Koch noting his disagreements with the president's stance on Israel as one reason. The district has a substantial Jewish vote.

Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to link the Republican to the Tea Party (which they hope would prove unpopular in New York) and are putting money into ads and turnout efforts, trying to capitalize on that built-in partisan edge -- along with highlighting support from popular Gov. Andrew Cuomo to try to hang on.

And whatever the outcome, this may -- may -- turn out to be a big and expensive fight for a short-lived prize. The district might vanish in a year as New York is slated to have two districts eliminated in redistricting, and this could be one of them.

NV-2: Reno, north and eastern Nevada

This race is to replace Republican Dean Heller, who was appointed to the Senate. This is a geographically large district with a population center in Reno, and stretching down to take in some areas near Las Vegas.

Given the Republican-leaning profile of the district, the GOP is favored by many to keep the seat as conservative Mark Amodei is leading in the available polls. Amodei has been bolstered by spending from American Crossroads as well.

Democratic challenger Kate Marshall has looked to highlight her own fiscally conservative positions. Early voting has been underway; reportedly, more Republicans have cast early ballots.

  • Anthony Salvanto On Twitter»

    Anthony Salvanto is CBS News elections director

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