The special election in the FL-13 U.S. House district has apparently been won by Republican David Jolly. Here is what Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics had to say about this race before voting ended:
My sense is that the Democratic candidate, former state chief financial officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink, will probably win.
We’ll discuss this more in bullet point No. 3, but this is a district that has gradually trended Democratic over the past few decades, where Democrats have an unusually strong (though still somewhat flawed) candidate, and where Republicans have a candidate who is average at best. In a swing district, that seems to be a recipe for a Democratic win.
…this seat is politically marginal, voting near the national margin in two straight elections. Democrats fielded a reasonably strong candidate in Sink, who had won statewide office, had very nearly won the governorship in a terrible Democratic year (albeit against a damaged opponent), and who carried this district twice in her statewide bids. This is a profile more commonly found among Senate candidates than House candidates.
Republicans fielded a first-time candidate, David Jolly, who had served as a lobbyist and who faced a competitive primary — indeed a primary that split Young’s family. While Politico’s “airing of grievances” piece should be taken with a grain of salt — jilted/nervous consultants turn on campaigns with regularity — it does serve as a nice compendium for the public mistakes by Team Jolly.
If we must say something, it is this: If Sink wins, we will know that a strong Democrat without a voting record, who is running in an open swing district, can defeat a middling Republican candidate. To be honest, that’s actually a somewhat important data point for Democrats…
So, given the logic of Trende’s analysis, is the actual result a significant canary in the coal mine message for Dems? Maybe. One thing to note is that the full results in FL-13 look worse for Dems than what might be observed from the two party result alone since the Libertarian candidate received nearly 5% of the vote according to RCP – and Sink wasn’t exactly an obvious second choice for those LP voters:
“With almost 100 percent of the vote counted, Jolly had 48.5 percent of the vote to Sink’s 46.7 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby had 4.8 percent.”