“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 »
"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."