Democratic pollster take on CD 13 - Republicans had the arithmetic advantage in turnout

Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel said today that if the CD13 race had been held in November instead of mid-March, Alex Sink would be heading to Washington D.C. today as Pinellas County's Representative in Congress, not David Jolly.

The reason for his theory is that there were 49,000 fewer people who voted in Tuesday's special election than did in November of 2010, the last midterm congressional election held in Pinellas County. And there were 160,000 fewer people than voted in the November 2012 CD13 race between Bill Young and Democrat Jessica Ehrlich, when Barack Obama took the district in the presidential election.

Democrats knew that Republicans had an advantage in running in a special election, where more of their voters were likely to turn out. Pollster Geoff Garin said that Republicans had a 13-point advantage going into the contest, and therefore Sink's less than 2-point defeat was "about as good as we could have hoped for."

"That’s cold comfort," Garin acknowledged, adding that Sink was able to narrow a very large Republican partisan advantage in the turnout by doing very well with independent voters, as well as better with her Democratic base than Jolly did with Republicans. But he said that "the arithmetic" that the Republicans had in this special election was "formidable."

When asked how he was able to determine that the Republicans had a 13-point advantage going into last night's contest, Garin said that he worked closely with the analytics department with the DCCC and then drew up a sample based on past voting history, along with determining how many voters were likely to vote in the race.

And Garin was adamant that the negative fallout from the Affordable Care Act was negligible at best. In fact, he said that Sink polled better on that issue than on her own popularity in the race. "She was outperforming her vote on that particular issue," he said.

DCCC Chairman Israel said he definitely wants Alex Sink to run again in November, calling last night just "the overture" and not the "curtain closer."

"She was an extraordinary candidate," he said. "She will continue to be an extraordinary candidate. The decision is hers to make. We're not going to approach her until she has time to assess her options."

Not only did Israel predict that if Sink runs she will win in November, but he vowed to do everything, "I mean EVERYTHING to support her in that endeavor."


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