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Tags: Alex Sink

The Big Senate Battles of 2014 Are on More
Pro-GOP Territory Than FL-13



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From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

The GOP’s Win in Florida Isn’t Everything . . . but It’s Something Significant.

Look, if you’re a Republican, go ahead and do a little victory dance over the special election in Florida last night. We obviously don’t get as many victories to celebrate as we would like!

This is just . . . sweet:

[David] Jolly’s win in a Gulf Coast district just west of Tampa illustrated the political toxicity of the law known as Obamacare. Jolly favored repealing and replacing the law, which was a central focus of the campaign, while his Democratic opponent did not. The law’s botched rollout has heightened Democrats’ anxiety eight months before the midterm elections. The Florida result is likely to raise their concerns.

With Jolly holding the seat for Republicans, Democrats must pick up 17 seats to win back the House majority in the fall, a task widely viewed as extremely difficult given historical trends, President Obama’s political woes and the limited pool of competitive seats up for grabs. Jolly will have to defend his seat in the fall.

As expected, the margin was close Tuesday. Jolly outpaced Democrat Alex Sink by about 3,400 votes out of 183,000. The Associated Press called the race for Jolly less than an hour after polls closed.

This morning, almost every Democrat is insisting it’s not a big deal, and almost every Republican is insisting it’s a bellwether, a more ominous omen for the Democrats than their Perrier turning to blood and a rain of endangered frogs falling from the skies above DNC headquarters.

Here’s what it means: A not-so-great Republican candidate can beat a not-so-great Democratic candidate on neutral territory by emphasizing Obamacare. Yes, Alex Sink had run and won statewide and nearly won the governor’s race in 2010. But she also was gaffe-prone – or as Caleb Howe summarized:

Debbie Downer Wasserman Schultz declared,Tonight, Republicans fell short of their normal margin in this district.” Well, yes, because they were running a little-known former staffer and lobbyist who just got divorced and he’s now dating a woman 14 years younger than he is. The previous occupant of the seat, the late Bill Young, was elected in 1970 and looked like he was out of central casting for an elder statesman.

The normal margin in this district? Young ran unopposed seven times. That pushes the “normal margin” pretty close to 100 percent! (In recent cycles, Young won between 57 and 75 percent.)

Some prominent Democrats weren’t accepting their own side’s spin: “Dems should not try to spin this loss. We have to redouble our efforts for 2014. Too much at stake,” declared . . . Paul Begala.

In November, there will be better Democratic candidates on the ballot. But there will also be better Republicans on the ballot. Forget the House of Representatives; not only will the GOP keep control of it in a political environment like this, they could easily gain seats. David Wasserman, House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, declared, “If Dems couldn’t win an Obama CD with a solid candidate against a flawed R, expect a rough November. . . . Bottom line: #FL13 result suggests House GOP still on track for gains this November, perhaps in 5-15 seat range.”

We know the real fight in November is in the Senate races, and you know what’s less Democrat-friendly territory than this R+1 swing district? The states of West Virginia (R+13), North Carolina (R+3), Louisiana (R+12), South Dakota (R+10), Alaska (R+12), Arkansas (R+14), and Montana (R+7). Those are all currently Democrat-held seats. And there are seven of them.

If last night’s result means that a halfway decent Republican candidate can win on Republican-leaning territory by hammering away at Obamacare . . . then the odds of the GOP winning the Senate look very, very good. That means that the competitive Senate races in places like Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia . . . that’s all gravy. Bonus seats. A cushion for the tougher set of seats up for reelection in 2016.

Almost hard to believe, isn’t it? Amazing what happens when Democrats get to enact the laws they want.

There are also some signs that the GOP get-out-the-vote efforts are finally starting to improve.

Dina Fraioli: “Jolly ran a better ground campaign. Republicans should be MORE proud of that. Obamacare hurt Sink, but didn’t kill her.”

Rick Wilson: “Be more proud of the fantastic field work by the @DavidJollyCD13 campaign and outside groups than the magical thinking this was Obamacare. I’m a media guy, and I am in awe of the hard work people did to pull voters for Jolly. Data, targeting, ground work, org fundamentals.”

Here’s what Stuart Rothenberg was writing back in January:

It’s rare in politics that anything other than a presidential contest is viewed as a “must win” — but the special election in Florida’s 13th District falls into that category for Democrats.

A loss in the competitive March 11 contest would almost certainly be regarded by dispassionate observers as a sign that President Barack Obama could constitute an albatross around the neck of his party’s nominees in November. And that could make it more difficult for Democratic candidates, campaign committees and interest groups to raise money and energize the grass roots . . . 

Given all of the advantages that Sink has — the district, her experience and proven electoral success, her money in the bank and her united party — and the problems the GOP nominee will face, shouldn’t the likely Democratic nominee be a clear favorite to win the special election, getting her party one seat closer to the majority in November?

Since most nonpartisan handicappers and analysts have for years expected this seat to go Democratic when it became open, a Republican victory in March would likely say something about the national political environment and the inclination of district voters to send a message of dissatisfaction about the president. And that possibility should worry the White House.

That’s a lot more fun to read when you know the outcome, isn’t it?

Tags: David Jolly , Alex Sink , Senate Elections

The Reasons Sink . . . (or Jolly!) Will Win Tomorrow’s Special Election



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Tomorrow, voters in Florida’s 13th congressional district head to the polls for a special U.S. House election.

Reasons Democrat Alex Sink Will Win Florida’s Special House Election:

Alex Sink is the bigger name, as a gubernatorial candidate in 2010 who won 47.7 percent of the vote in a year when Republicans did fantastically well across Florida. She’s been elected statewide, as chief financial officer of Florida in 2006 with 53.5 percent of the vote.

Her Republican opponent, David Jolly, has never run for office before. He was counsel to the previous congressman from this district, the late Bill Young, and spent several years as a lobbyist. Some Republicans in Washington have been loudly complaining about the quality of Jolly’s campaign.

Sink’s campaign is raising and spending way more money than Jolly’s campaign.

Obama won this district, 50 percent to 49 percent, in 2012.

SmartPolitics notes that women candidates are twice as likely to win in a special election compared to a regular November election.

There’s a Libertarian candidate, Lucas Overby, polling at 4 to 7 percent, and one poll had him at 12 percent. Experts disagree on whether a Libertarian candidate hurts the GOP or the Democratic candidate more, but as the Tampa Bay Times notes, that support is coming from somewhere: “Less than 1 percent of voters in Pinellas’ Congressional District 13 are registered as Libertarian.”

Reasons Republican David Jolly Will Win Florida’s Special House Election:

It’s a swing district that scores an R+1 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

Polling in a special House election is notoriously difficult, but the two most recent polls have Jolly ahead by two percentage points and trailing by three-tenths of one percent.

Republicans closely watching the race from Washington are elated at the early vote numbers:

With more than 119,000 ballots cast early or in the mail, the GOP holds a returned-ballot advantage of 4.06% — thereby reaching the magic number some observers believe the Republicans must be at by Election Day in order for them to win the seat.

According to the latest data — and this data reflects some cancelling out that does not show up in Pinellas Supervisor of Elections’ raw numbers — 48,123 ballots from Republican voters have been returned as of Friday, while Democrats have turned in 43,526. Third-party or NPA voters have cast 21,503 ballots.

At this point, the GOP has increased its returned-ballot advantage by more than two points from a week ago. And it would appear, based on Friday’s returns, that the gap will only continue to increase. Of the approximately 3,200 ballots which were returned on Friday, 53% of them came from Republican voters, with just 29% coming from Democrats.

Outside groups are helping Jolly level the playing field in the television-advertising battle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took out a $400,000 TV ad buy supporting Jolly, and then another $400,000 on ads hitting Sink, a pretty sizeable chunk of change.

While neither candidate is raw political charisma personified, Sink may have made the more consequential gaffe when she declared, “Immigration reform is important in our country . . . for obvious reasons, because we have a lot of employers over in the beaches who rely upon workers who, especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping?” Over at Slate, Dave Weigel describes how she’s attempting to hold a nuanced position on Obamacare; in a low-turnout special election, a strong, clear voice of opposition to Obamacare probably breaks through easier than qualified, on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand message.

Senator Rand Paul is making robocalls for Jolly, trying to help him with those Libertarian-minded voters who may feel tempted to vote for Overby.

X Factors: Both campaigns got quieter late last week:

Anyone hoping David Jolly or Alex Sink would be out shaking hands and kissing babies on the last day of the last full week before election day was probably disappointed Friday. The Republican and the Democrat, respectively, kept noticeably low profiles heading into the final weekend before the as-yet unnervingly close race is decided on Tuesday, though the nasty messages flying to and fro between the camps continue uninterrupted.

Tags: Alex Sink , David Jolly

A Tough Special Election in Florida Awaits GOP in 2014



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The first federal election of 2014 comes on March 11, when Florida’s 13th congressional district holds a special election to fill the seat of the late Bill Young, who died in October at the age of 82.

The GOP primary is January 14, with Mark Bircher, David W. Jolly, and state representative Kathleen M. Peters on the ballot.

Florida primaries are closed, meaning only registered Republicans will vote in the primary. There will be no Democratic primary because only one Democrat qualified for the ballot, former state chief financial officer Alex Sink.

The Republican candidate will be taking on a rival with a position on Obamacare that is a spectacular piece of fluff:

The rollout of the website and problems that have arisen with the implementation are unacceptable: The Obama Administration needs to be held accountable to get the website running, and making any necessary changes to fix any problems with the law. If these changes cannot be made in a timely way, then components of the law should be delayed until these issues are addressed.

Does that mean the individual mandate? A further delay in the individual mandate? What does she consider “necessary changes”? What does she consider “problems with the law”? Does she consider higher premiums for existing policyholders a problem with the law?

Sink has a good reason to fudge and blur her opinion on Obamacare. While we don’t have specific polling for the district, the law is pretty darn unpopular in Florida as a whole. In November, Quinnipiac found voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 54–39 percent; 44 percent say the law will make their health care worse, 21 percent say it will make their health care better, and 31 percent foresee no effect. That survey found Obama’s disapproval at 57 percent, approval at 40 percent.

This is an R+1 district that John McCain carried by 5 points in 2008, but Obama carried it by a percentage point in 2012. Sink is considered the favorite in the special election. She was the Democrats’ candidate for governor in 2010, and she won 153,865 votes in Pinellas County to 136,657 for Rick Scott, a 50 percent–to–​45 percent split. But the GOP has a slight edge in voter registration: “Independents make up 28 percent of voters in Pinellas County. Republicans account for 37 percent and Democrats for 35 percent.”

This week the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $22,825 for survey research (polling) in the district, performed by GS strategy group, and $17,000 for media, paid to the firm Targeted Victory.

Tags: Alex Sink , Mark Bircher , David Jolly , Kathleen Peters

Quinnipiac’s Last Poll in Florida Seems . . . Just Plain Weird.



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We will know whether this poll is on the mark in a matter of days, but Quinnipiac’s latest results in Florida seem a little odd to me:

In the Florida U.S. Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio leads Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent, 42 – 35 percent among likely voters, while Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek gets 15 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In the hotly-contested governor’s race, State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat, has 45 percent to 41 percent for Republican Rick Scott, the independent Quinnipiac University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds.  Another 11 percent are undecided and 9 percent of those who name a candidate say they might change their mind in this final week before Election Day. 

Today’s results compare with Quinnipiac University’s October 13 survey showing Rubio with 44 percent, followed by Crist with 30 percent and Meek with 22 percent. 

An October 12 poll of the governor’s race showed Scott with 45 percent and Sink with 44 percent.

I suppose that in the Senate race, this could be the traditional late coalescing of support around the top two candidates in a three-way race. But is the Democratic nominee in a hard-fought Senate race really going to be held to 15 percent? Are we to believe that Kendrick Meek will finish with a lower share of the vote than Alvin Greene (usually around 20 percent)?

As for the governor’s race . . . perhaps Floridians are confident that Alex Sink can handle the tough questions, as long as her makeup woman is never far away.

Tags: Alex Sink , Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio , Rick Scott

Florida’s Gubernatorial Race, Coming Down to the Wire



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Florida’s governor’s race is probably going to come down to the wire. This morning, Quinnipiac puts Republican Rick Scott barely ahead of Democrat Alex Sink, 45–44; at the beginning of the month, Scott had a 49–43 lead. That movement may not be statistically significant, but there are a bunch of ominous numbers in this poll for Scott:

Ms. Sink’s surge could be tied to voter belief, 44 – 28 percent, that she was a more ethical businessperson than Scott when both were in the private sector, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds.  A total of 89 percent of likely voters say a candidate’s record in business is either somewhat or very important to their vote choice.

By a 42 – 37 percent margin, Florida voters have a favorable opinion of Sink, while Scott gets a negative 39 – 46 percent favorability rating.  This compares to the October 1 survey showing her with a split 39 – 39 percent favorability, compared to Scott’s split 41 – 40 percent.

It says a lot about the national environment that Sink can’t get ahead of a Republican with a negative favorability rating.

Tags: Alex Sink , Rick Scott

Scott Ahead in Florida; Obama’s Numbers Dark in Sunshine State



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Quinnipiac has better news for Republicans in Florida than I expected:

Republican Rick Scott holds a 49 – 43 percent lead over State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat, in the race to become Florida’s next governor, according to today’s Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters whose overall low opinion of President Barack Obama appears to be dragging Sink down.

Scott’s lead comes despite a television advertising campaign that voters say they find annoying, the independent Quinnipiac University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds.  This first likely voter general election survey in Florida in this election cycle can not be compared with prior surveys of registered voters.

Although Scott holds a 6-point lead in the horse race, the candidates have almost identical favorability ratings from Florida likely voters: 39 – 39 percent for Sink and 41 – 40 percent for Scott.

Florida likely voters disapprove 56 – 40 percent of the job President Obama is doing.  Democrats approve 83 – 15 percent, while disapproval is 92 – 6 percent among Republicans and 56 – 38 percent among independent voters.

That’s a pretty abysmal number for Obama in Florida.

For perspective, in late July, Rasmussen found Obama’s job-approval rating at 40 percent and disapproval at 58 percent . . . in South Carolina.

Tags: Alex Sink , Barack Obama , Rick Scott

Will Negative Ads Prove Counter-productive in Florida This Year?



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One of my regulars offers an assessment from Florida . . .

Voters are EXHAUSTED with the negative ads. This might be something building down there. Anyone without a real message other than attacking their opponent may not get any traction with voters. Scott and Greene might both be in real trouble, unless their money bought a ton of early votes. Voters really turned against them after the subpoena for Scott and the reports of antics on Greene’s boat with Mike Tyson . . .

If they go down, that’s a stunning defeat for these two money bags throwing so much money into the races and at the end, could well lose by a very good margin.

That would shape up to be a race between Alex Sink, Bill McCollum, and Lawton Chiles III in the governor’s race and Kendrick Meek, Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist in the Senate race. As long as Meek is over 20 percent in the polls, I don’t see him dropping out . . . The greatest risk to Rubio in a M-R-C match-up is Meek dropping out the last minute (but not so late, because of early votings in Florida) and endorsing Crist . . . (maybe the other way around — Crist endorsing Meek last minute so he can beg for some job in the Obama administration!) . . . Bottom line, the voters are up in arms against the negative ads. They’ve had it. They want a good positive agenda . . . Rubio’s absence from the slugfest between the candidates and the money-bags may be a good thing. People are not looking for someone to blame and to whack the other guy, but rather someone to come in and fix the darn situation now . . .  A good analog is the boat is sinking, taking in water, and there is a big gusher in the boat . . . If all the voters see is three guys fighting each other and not fixing a darn thing, all three will get punished. 

Then there’s this late poll:

The Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations found McCollum with 45 percent support among likely voters compared to 36 percent support for the former health care executive, with Republican Mike McAlister drawing 4 percent.

The nine-point advantage among 500 GOP voters surveyed Tuesday through Thursday suggests undecided voters are breaking two-to-one for McCollum since the last Mason-Dixon poll a week earlier found him with a four-percentage point lead. The former Longwood congressman is now leading in every region of the state save for Scott’s home turf in southwest Florida.

Tags: Alex Sink , Bill McCollum , Charlie Crist , Jeff Greene , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio , Rick Scott

I Wonder if Joe Biden Thinks Criticism From Florida Democrats Is a Big . . . Deal.



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Today’s Jolt is heavy with discussion on the movie Inception — unless I dreamed writing all of that — but I’ll just call your attention to this surprising quote:

Meanwhile, Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink makes a hard pitch for the support of Morning Jolt readers: “In interviews conducted along the coast, Florida Democrats accused the administration of largely ignoring their calls and letters and complained of a White House that’s out of touch. Alex Sink, Florida’s chief financial officer and the state’s presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, even characterized Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the state as ‘a screw-up,’ saying she was ‘embarrassed’ by his speech. ‘It was just so off target and out of touch with the reality of what’s going on over there,’ Sink said in an interview at the Florida Democratic Party headquarters in Tallahassee.”

They can join the frustrated Rust Belt Democrats.

Tags: Alex Sink , Joe Biden

Another Three-Way Statewide Race in Florida



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I wouldn’t quite say, “Congratulations, Governor-elect Bill McCollum,” but this news makes it much more likely that the GOP frontrunner will emerge victorious on the fall:

Lawton “Bud’’ Chiles III, the son of the late governor, announced Thursday that he plans to run for governor as an independent candidate.

A lifelong Democrat, Chiles is poised to test the theory that 2010 is the Year of the Outsider. Another high-profile candidate, Gov. Charlie Crist, recently left his party to run as an independent in the U.S. Senate race.

The move gives Chiles additional time to raise money and build name recognition for November’s race between candidates from the two major parties. In opting out of the Democratic primary, he skipped a one-on-one battle with Alex Sink, the front-runner for the nomination who has raised $6.1 million . . .

Chiles said he made his decision after he met with Sink and she told him she plans to raise $30 million on the race.

Democrats likely won’t be pleased with Chiles’ move, as it could set him up as a spoiler candidate who would draw votes from Sink.

On paper, Chiles and Sink split the center-left vote and McCollum (or perhaps Rick Scott) emerges with the largest plurality. Of course, there’s a reason they actually have elections and don’t just do things on paper.

This is the year of the Florida three-way, with this development and the Senate race, a contest among Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist, and Kendrick Meek.

Tags: Alex Sink , Bill McCollum , Lawton Chiles III

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