It Was A Terrible Night For Democrats

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Paul Martin

MAR. 12, 2014

The Florida special election had the potential to display Democrats are capable of gains in the 2014 midterm elections — or at least of avoiding a disastrous midterm cycle.

Democrats had the perceived candidate advantage in Florida’s 13th district — they put a former gubernatorial candidate, Alex Sink, against former lobbyist and Republican David Jolly. And Democrats had the money — Sink out-raised Jolly, and outside groups poured in money in an election that cost more than $11 million.

What Democrats got instead was a warning — from purple states to red states they’ll be trying to defend in November, that it won’t be easy. Jolly beat Sink by about 2 percentage points in a race called about 50 minutes after polls closed in the district.

“Dems should not try to spin this loss,” Paul Begala, the Democratic political consultant and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, wrote on Twitter. We have to redouble our efforts for 2014. Too much at stake.”

Democrats did try to spin the loss — as one showing Democrats could compete in a Republican district. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed to the fact the district had been held by the late Bill Young, a Republican, since 1971. (President Barack Obama carried the district in both 2008 and 2012, however.)

“Ultimately, the overwhelmingly Republican composition of the special election electorate — expected to be 13 points more Republican than Democratic — paired with nearly $5 million in spending from 11 Republican groups made for a far steeper challenge than any midterm battleground district will be in November, including in FL-13,” the DCCC said in a memo.

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