Special election in FL-13 today: Jolly vs Sink

posted at 9:21 am on March 11, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

If today is the first test of the 2014 midterm elections, then Republicans start off on the defensive. The death of Rep. Bill Young after 42 years in Congress forced a special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District to fill out the rest of his term. The battle between former Young aide David Jolly and failed gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink ends today, along with the open seat in the narrowly Republican district:

Republicans have relentlessly focused on Sink’s support for Obamacare, which she says she supports even if it is not perfect and still needs some fixing itself.

“We can’t go back to letting insurance companies do whatever they want,” she says in a television ad, the Associated Press reported. “Instead of repealing the health law, we need to keep what’s right and fix what’s wrong.”

It has become the signature issue of the race, and Republicans hope that a win could preview the November elections by illustrating how toxic the healthcare law has become for Democratic candidates, specifically vulnerable Democratic Senators targeted by the GOP this cycle.

If Sink were to win, on the other hand, it could embolden Democrats, demonstrating that support for the healthcare law was not the albatross that some have made it out to be.

The Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe wonders whether either candidate deserves to win so much as to not lose:

Lackluster candidates, millions spent, a third-party candidate: Every detail of Tuesday’s special election in Florida’s 13th District makes it unusual, but the bellwether district is still the first indication of the 2014 electoral mood.

Regardless of outside factors in the critical region, the winning party will try to spin the results of the first midterm test as a harbinger for their party’s messages this fall.

“This is not about [Democrat] Alex Sink and [Republican] David Jolly,” said Mike Fasano, a former Florida GOP state House and Senate member. “This is about what’s happening in Washington and who happens to be more unpopular than the other party.”

Stakes are highest for Democrats, even though they don’t hold the vacant seat once held by the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).

Facing a 17-seat deficit in the House, Democrats can’t afford to lose one of the few toss-up seats left in the country. Such a failure would undercut their message that they can put GOP-leaning seats on the map or even compete in places where President Obama narrowly won in 2012.

Of course, one could argue that Republicans need to show that they can hold swing districts in the absence of incumbents, too. This Congress has already seen a number of retirements on both sides of the aisle, after all, and there may still be time for a few more. If the GOP can’t hold its R+1 districts, even in a special election when voting patterns may take surprising twists, it might not look good for Republicans in November.

There hasn’t been much polling in this race, which is typical for special House elections, but what polling exists shows a toss-up. PPP puts Sink slightly ahead at 48/45, with another 6% going to a Libertarian Party candidate, and that’s with a sample with an R+7 edge. Only 21% of that sample was below 45 years of age, too, which may well reflect the electorate in a special election, but won’t help Sink much.

The US Chamber of Commerce poll puts Jolly ahead 44/42, though in a smaller sample. The bigger takeaway from that poll is that ObamaCare — which Sink supports — is underwater in the district, 39/54. Interestingly and tellingly, PPP never bothered to ask that question, which has been the biggest policy issue in the campaign. Instead, PPP asked a question about the prioritization of “climate change” agenda, where only 44% thought it was “very important” — opposed to 25% who thought it was “somewhat important,” and 29% who thought it was “not that important.”

This one is too close to call, but will be fascinating to unpack when it’s over. The winner will have to fight this battle again in the fall, too, for another term. It might be a day or two before we know which candidate has to worry about it.

Update: Guy Benson e-mails me to note that Barack Obama won this district in both of his presidential elections, which shows the nature of this swing district; Young won it both times for the GOP. Obama’s turnout models won’t be what we see today, though.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Quit being a nitwitted a$$hat.

Midas on March 11, 2014 at 12:04 PM

I think with many on HA, some are really pointless and are lacking logic and basic understanding. I’ve run into several in the past couple of days.

I thot I heard that Putin was on the wrong side of History, LOL

bluefox on March 11, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Obviously you have no point to make. You shrieked “hypocrite” and were shown to be foolish. Since then, you’ve devoted one post after another posing inane questions. I have better uses for my time.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:01 PM

It’s ok, sister, I didn’t really expect you to be able to explain how it is that having a differing opinion is unacceptable in America these days.

We can discuss things again when someone whose views you don’t agree with is Top Dog in the GOP and you suddenly find yourself a renegade advocating dissent; it should be a rousing good time.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

When you work against the only candidate on the right with a chance to win you are not voting FOR anything.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:15 PM

So it really IS about the Party.

And here I thought you said this earlier:

My loyalty is to my country, not to a party and not to an ideology.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Must have been someone stealing your screen name; damned interlopers!

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Some people are just plain smarter than others .. take those independents who don’t vote party line (whatever that IS) and throw away any semblance of “principle” in order to put themselves above the fray of the political rabble, because .. you know .. they’re better at consensus building than others and vote only on the issues! All the while espousing the ideology of the dims ‘doing whatever it takes to win’ .. throwing away traditions that have made us great .. ‘misspeaking’ with alacrity .. inviting millions of dem voters across the border .. and on and on .. why argue with a wall?

GKChesterton99 on March 11, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:21 PM

It happens all the time. I told you several times that I support issues on their merits.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Persistent little bugger. Wrong as always, but persistent. You see, he is not casting a vote FOR anything when he throws his vote away. Saying so does not make me a party line drone.

Give up the contrived hypocrite chants already. Your fixation with me is just tiresome.

And yeah I know I said that I wasn’t going to respond to you again. Sue me, or whine “hypocrite” if it makes you happy.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

The only good thing I have to say is that in six hours the political ads stop.

meci on March 11, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Persistent little bugger. Wrong as always, but persistent. You see, he is not casting a vote FOR anything when he throws his vote away. Saying so does not make me a party line drone.

Give up the contrived hypocrite chants already. Your fixation with me is just tiresome.

And yeah I know I said that I wasn’t going to respond to you again. Sue me, or whine “hypocrite” if it makes you happy.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Awwww…don’t get all mad, bro, remember when you said you were now above all the name-calling and snide remarks?

Plain and simple, you aren’t required to vote. If I choose not to vote for ANY party nominee because I consider them the wrong person for the job then I’m not throwing my vote away, I’m putting my country first which is something you apparently advocate, yes?

If the GOP, demorats, and Greens all nominate people I consider losers, must I choose from them or can I simply ignore that part of the ballot? A loser is a loser no matter which Party they represent.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Awwww…don’t get all mad, bro, remember when you said you were now above all the name-calling and snide remarks?

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 12:59 PM

You’re right about that part. Sorry, I shouldn’t have gone there.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Died in office? After 42 years? Joy.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Job lock. Obamacare could’ve solved that problem but it didn’t exist yet.

eyedoc on March 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM

You’re right about that part. Sorry, I shouldn’t have gone there.

MJBrutus on March 11, 2014 at 1:03 PM

No problem, happens to everyone.

Bishop on March 11, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Sink is a carpetbagger in the 13th. She’s from across state and rented an apartment in the 13th to seem like she’s local.

Dandapani on March 11, 2014 at 1:45 PM

This looks like another election where the Libertarian candidate will get the Democrat elected. That’s probably why he’s there. See Mia Love, UT-4 in 2012.

crosspatch on March 11, 2014 at 2:18 PM

13th District 83.1% Reporting
D. Jolly GOP 48.2% 83,224
A. Sink Dem 47.0% 81,178
L. Overby Lib 4.9% 8,402

blammm on March 11, 2014 at 7:28 PM

13th District 91.6% Reporting
D. Jolly GOP 48.4% 85,787
A. Sink Dem 46.8% 83,023
L. Overby Lib 4.8% 8,590

blammm on March 11, 2014 at 7:29 PM

anywhere to get live updates?? I couldnt vote, I live 100 feet north of the district.

malkinmania on March 11, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Polls closed..every story states Jolly ahead by a couple points…BUT this bizarre claim by Yahoo News..claims Sink has it 49%-46%..huh?

malkinmania on March 11, 2014 at 7:46 PM

13th District 100.0% Reporting
D. Jolly GOP 48.5% 88,294
A. Sink Dem 46.6% 84,877
L. Overby Lib 4.8% 8,799

blammm on March 11, 2014 at 7:47 PM

malkinmania on March 11, 2014 at 7:47 PM

MESSNBC syas Jolly won…Matthews ignoring the scroll

malkinmania on March 11, 2014 at 7:54 PM

Looks like a surprisingly easy win for Jolly. I was expecting much longer evening and a closer race.

Cindy Munford on March 11, 2014 at 8:15 PM

anywhere to get live updates?? I couldnt vote, I live 100 feet north of the district.

malkinmania on March 11, 2014 at 7:35 PM

That wouldn’t have stopped a Democrat.

hawkdriver on March 11, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Looks like a surprisingly easy win for Jolly. I was expecting much longer evening and a closer race.

Cindy Munford on March 11, 2014 at 8:15 PM

My friends from that area were nervous because of all of the money the DNC was spending on Sinks campaign. Also if you listen to any of the coverage on CNN it was a given that the Democrat was going to win. The Media are the Democrat’s best friends and they were trying to cheer her to a win.

whbates on March 11, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Comment pages: 1 2