Democrats have been heavy favorites to capture the seat of the late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) in a special election on March 11th. Their nominee, Alex Sink, lost a close race for Governor in 2010 and has both high name recognition and a strong fundraising edge. A new poll from the Chamber of Commerce, however, finds the GOP nominee, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), moving into a slim 2-point lead. Jolly now leads Sink 44-42.
Just over a week ago, Sink led Jolly by 7 points.
The Republican Jolly is not an obvious candidate in a year shaping up to be anti-incumbent, anti-establishment. A long-time aide to Rep. Young, Jolly has spent the past several years working as a lobbyist in DC. His resume, though, is trumped by strong opposition in the district to ObamaCare. Voters in Florida’s 13th District oppose ObamaCare 54-39%. Opposition to the Democrat’s signature legislative achievement is erasing any natural advantage Democrats have in the swing district.
While Rep. Young won reelection to the seat handily, President Obama won the district in both 2008 and 2012. Democrats have flooded the district with campaign spending in support of their marquee recruit, but Sink seems to be dragged down by the unpopular health care law.
NBC News political editor Chuck Todd recently remarked that ‘If Democrats can win seats like [FL 13th] they can’t win seats, period.”
Given the amount of money the left is pouring into the race, Sink should still be considered the favorite to capture the special election. Her struggles, though, in a seat which Democrats need to have any plausible claim towards challenging House control, suggest the heavy slog the party will have in November.