Saturday, February 15, 2014

Midterms 2014: Special Election FL-13 With Three Weeks To Go. Here's Some Polling.

I mentioned earlier there is a special election (even with the regular election still nine months away) being held to fill the vacancy for US House Florida District 13.  The polling back then was pretty much up for grabs, one side's poll services favoring their own candidate and all, and so I waited for a less-biased source to give us some update.

The local paper St. Pete (fine, fine) Tampa Bay Times came out with a poll a few days ago:
In the hard-fought and nationally watched campaign, 42 percent would vote for (Democratic candidate Alex) Sink, 35 percent for (Republican David) Jolly and 4 percent for Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby, according to an exclusive Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/WUSF Public Media poll of likely voters in Congressional District 13. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Now, 42 percent for Democrat Sink over 35 percent to Republican Jolly isn't too shabby (7 percent difference), but you've got a third-party candidate in the Libertarian Overby sitting there at 4 percent and you've got a "margin of error" (the statistical probability that the polled population might be skewed) at 4 percent already that knocks the likelihood for Sink down to a 3 percent lead.  There's little room for error here.

The polling also notes what's at stake:
Of those who support Sink, 81 percent also support Obamacare. Of those who support Jolly, 84 percent also oppose Obamacare.
Supporters of both candidates felt passionately about the issue.
More than two-thirds of Sink and Jolly supporters said their candidate's position on the law was a "very important" or "somewhat important" reason for their support...

This is the first true campaign following the start-up of Obamacare (AKA the nowhere-near-universal-healthcare-like-all-other-capitalist-nations-deploy series of healthcare reforms) that's got it as an issue front-and-center.  Not the need for more jobs or better wages, but Obamacare.  There's a reason a lot of outside-the-district and even outside-the-state money is getting funneled into this: whoever wins this dictates what the primary nationwide party platform for the regular midterms will be.

If the Republican Jolly wins campaigning heavily against Obamacare, it will signal the rest of the Congressional GOP that they can use the repealing of it as their main weapon.  It will force the Democrats to play defense on the issue, talking about Obamacare rather than the more polling-friendly issues like raising the minimum wage and creating more jobs.

If the Democrat Sink wins campaigning in favor of Obamacare, and winning a Republican-designed gerrymandered district doing so, it will signal that repealing Obamacare is a losing argument for the Republicans.  The polling showed 47 percent oppose Obamacare in the district over 43 percent in favor, and if Sink still wins it means that issue didn't help Jolly over the hump.  It will free up the Democrats to campaign on their own issues, again the raising of the minimum wage and creating more jobs.

To be fair, this being a special election doesn't say much about who's going to succeed in November: that's still nine months away and anything can happen between then and now; there may be other factors at stake here such as voters sometimes voting for a fresh (party) face to serve a district after a long-standing incumbent (like Bill Young, who'd been serving in Congress since - Dear God - 1970?!) retires or dies; and while Obamacare may be the issue for 80+ percent of the polled, there may be other issues at stake for those who won't use the healthcare laws to make their decisions.
...Independent voters have the potential to play a big role in the race. According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, about 37.1 percent of district voters are Republicans, 34.7 percent are Democrats and 24 percent have "no party affiliation." (The rest belong to smaller political parties.)
The poll found that independents aren't leaning strongly in either direction. Thirty-three percent of independents backed Sink, 27 percent backed Jolly, 9 percent backed Overby and 23 percent were undecided...

But, just saying, if Sink wins a Republican-designed district even with a controversial healthcare law dangling around her neck you're gonna see a lot of unhappy far right campaign consultants racing about for something else for their Tea-Party leaning candidates to rally around.  And there's not much else out there the GOP can campaign on as a positive...

And this is why, still vitally important y'all, to GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT people.  Gotta get those 23 percent undecided independents to make up their minds and vote for Sink.  This is key: for the LOVE OF GOD don't vote Republican...

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