And thus begins the midterm panic of '14:
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 11, 2014
BREAKING: Republican David Jolly wins Fla. congressional special election in test race over health care.
This seat was previously held by a long-serving Republican, but Barack Obama carried it twice, the Republican nominee was far from flawless, and the Democratic nominee enjoyed a wide name ID advantage from her gubernatorial run. Many experts saw this race as Alex Sink's to lose. She ran on a "fix, don't repeal, Obamacare" platform. She lost. Break out the tea leaves:
Looks like Jolly's night. If Dems couldn't win an Obama CD with a solid candidate against a flawed R, expect a rough November.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) March 11, 2014
It's way GOP held FL13 that is so troublesome for Dems. Flawed underfunded cand wins, propped up by outside money aimed at health care— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) March 11, 2014
Yes, FL-13 will be over-interpreted like most specials, but tonite Rs have to feel pretty good about picking UP seats in Nov.— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) March 12, 2014
ABC News' Rick Klein spelled out the stakes of this races earlier today. Democrats are spinning this loss, but the can't escape certain realities:
Tonight, it’s the Democrats with all the expectations to meet. That’s because they have more questions to answer this year, about their ability to message around Obamacare and Social Security, and make the case against Republicans in a district with divided tendencies. Democrats won’t have candidates as seasoned or well-funded as Alex Sink everywhere. And they know privately at least that they’re looking at a dismal 2014 if they can’t win districts like this one.
Polls showed a tight race with Sink leading Jolly by two points. Jolly took the race by two points, riding a double-digit election day wave that overcame Sink's modest early voting edge. This race was a referendum on Obamacare. In an Obama district. In a swing state. With a well-funded, seasoned Democratic candidate. Political handicapper Stu Rothenberg called it a "must win" for Democrats. And now we have Congressman David Jolly (R-FL). Yes, special elections can be sui generis in nature, and Democrats won a contested special in 2010 before getting swamped a few months later. But for Democrats, this result cannot be ignored. I'll leave you with one of the ads that ran against sink over the last few weeks:
UPDATE - Oh, Debbie: