In what Democrats must be hoping is not a bellwether for the mid-term elections, Republican David Jolly won a closely watched special election in a battleground district in Florida yesterday. As WaPo reports, Democrats and Republicans spent millions of dollars with Jolly favoring repealing and replacing Obamacare, which was a central focus of the campaign, while his Democratic opponent did not. The race was close (Jolly won by 3,400 votes of the 183,000 cast), but as WaPo notes, the Florida result is likely to raise Democrat concerns (especially considering the Democrat’s money advantage in the race).
In the first major test of voter attitudes in 2014, Republican David Jolly won a closely watched special election for the U.S. House in Florida Tuesday, handing his party a narrow victory in a battleground district where Republicans and Democrats spent millions of dollars fine-tuning their messages on national issues ahead of the fall midterm elections.
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.
Money played a big part…
Sink, Jolly and their affiliated groups spent more than $12 million in the campaign, making it one of the most expensive House races ever.
As a result of Sink’s money advantage over Jolly, she enjoyed a head start out of the gates at the beginning of the general election sprint in mid-January. Voters started casting absentee ballots — a popular way of voting in the district — later that month, giving Democrats an opportunity to capitalize on Jolly’s inability to spend big money on a positive, introductory message over the airwaves. But Sink did not build a big enough lead in absentee voting to prevail on election day.
Democrats vowed to fight for the seat in November.