Special J

Republican David Jolly heads to the stage to thank his supporters Tuesday, March 11, 2014, at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, in Clearwater Beach, Fla.
National Journal
Scott Bland
See more stories about...
Scott Bland
March 12, 2014, 7:40 a.m.

“Rep.-elect Dav­id Jolly” (R) will take Dems some time get­ting used to, but that’s the real­ity after he de­feated Alex Sink (D) by al­most 2 points in the FL-13 spe­cial Tues­day night. Health care played an im­port­ant role, as it seems destined to do in many more high-pro­file races this year. But it wasn’t the only factor in play.

— Pres­id­ent Obama won FL-13 twice, but in many ways it’s not a typ­ic­al “Obama dis­trict.” He nar­rowly won it twice, but its demo­graph­ic makeup is a lot dif­fer­ent than oth­er Dem-lean­ing seats. In par­tic­u­lar, it is older and whiter than many Obama dis­tricts: Whites over 45 com­prise 44% of the pop­u­la­tion there, com­pared to 29% na­tion­ally. Com­pared to oth­er Flor­ida dis­tricts, there aren’t many His­pan­ics there.

— Without exit polls, we don’t know how dif­fer­ent groups voted. (Some Dems in­volved said Sink was com­pet­it­ive with older voters.) But it wasn’t enough, and older whites have proven most hos­tile to Obama­care — and Obama­care was the main thrust of the GOP’s anti-Sink cam­paign. Don’t look now, but older whites also play out­sized roles in the im­port­ant red-state Sen­ate races this year, in­clud­ing con­tests in West Vir­gin­ia, Montana, North Car­o­lina and Arkan­sas.

— Sink poll­ster Geoff Gar­in ar­gued that Obama­care ac­tu­ally helped Sink among in­de­pend­ents, but it couldn’t over­come Demo­crats’ ma­jor turnout dis­ad­vant­age com­pared to Re­pub­lic­ans. Obama­care is a big mo­tiv­at­or for the type of voters already more likely to turn out in non-pres­id­en­tial elec­tions, and while DCCC chair Steve Is­rael said Wed­nes­day that Dems were able to bend turnout to­ward them a bit, it clearly wasn’t enough. Spe­cial elec­tion turnout is far worse than midterm turnout, but it’s still a symp­tom of Demo­crat­ic GOTV is­sues in non-pres­id­en­tial scen­ari­os. (This morn­ing, the DSCC said it points to the im­port­ance of their big field pro­ject for this fall.)

One last item to pon­der here: Just in case any­one was un­sure about what out­side money can do these days, con­sider that Sink out­spent Jolly around 4-1 on TV, but the GOP por­tion of $9 mil­lion in out­side spend­ing helped even things up.
Scott Bland

What We're Following See More »
Clinton Shows Up on Stage to Close Obama’s Speech
5 hours ago

Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.

Obama: Country Is Stronger Than Eight Years Ago
5 hours ago

In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."

Kaine Sticks Mostly to the Autobiography
6 hours ago

Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.

Bloomberg: Neither Party Has a Monopoly on Good Ideas
7 hours ago

Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."

Biden: Obama ‘One of the Finest Presidents’
7 hours ago

Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."