Why House Moderates are an Endangered Species
Florida's 18th Congressional District is possibly the quintessential swing district in the United States. Not only did George W. Bush carry the area in 2004 while President Obama won it four years later, but both presidents won it very narrowly and it swung only slightly. Bush won 50.5 percent of the vote in the Treasure Coast seat, slightly below his statewide percentage, and Obama won 51 percent of the vote in the 18th District while winning 52.9 percent statewide.
In summary, it's a consistently even district with a large moderate constituency. Yet it's also home to one of the most nasty, polarizing House races in the country. The campaign between GOP Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy is as nasty as any in the nation, with West recently releasing a TV ad detailing Murphy's arrest for drunken disorderly conduct as a teenager, and Murphy's camp fired back with an ad resurrecting questions about West's military record. What's more, the candidates are running as polar opposites. Though conservative groups have criticized his legislative record, West is a base candidate. And Murphy is a former Republican, but as my colleague Ben Terris wrote earlier this year, he's been happy just to be the anti-West in this campaign.
An item in TCPalm.com today neatly captures how both candidates are playing to their bases. Take a look at their itineraries this week: