by Mitch Perry
Five days after David Jolly defeated Alex Sink in the CD13 race in Pinellas County, the verdict is in from America's pundit class: Obamacare was the culprit for Jolly's victory, and essentially the Democrats are screwed going into November because of it.
I include amongst those pundits Reince Preibus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who told Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union that Obamacare is a "complete poison out there in the field."
"But secondly, David Jolly gave a positive vision," Priebus said. "He had a position on ObamaCare which was positive for him, positive message besides ObamaCare, and we also had an effort that was cooperative with the RNC and state party where we were taking digital advances we had made, walking applications we put in the field and our data was talking to our political field operation on a historical way for our party and it worked… We’re going to have a good year this year and, you know, I think we’re going to win the U.S. Senate and I think that bodes well for the future…"
Over on ABC's This Week, former George W. Bush pollster Matthew Bush blamed Sink's loss on the fading popularity with President Obama, saying this is why he thinks the Democrats are destined to have big losses in Congress come November.
"This really wasn't about Jolly," Dowd told host George Stephanopoulos and his fellow panelists on the ABC News Sunday morning program. "In my view, this really wasn't about Jolly and this really wasn't fundamentally about Obamacare, what this is about is the mood of the country. And I think Democrats at their peril ignore the mood of the country out there. And as the mood changes, and it's changed this year. The president has a job approval rating in the low 40s. And when a president has a job approval rating in the low 40s, the Democratic incumbent looses seats. "
However both Greta Van Susteren from Fox News and liberal analyst Eric Michael Dyson tried to calm the meme that has now been cast - that the CD13 race was simply a proxy on the popularity of the Affordable Care Act.
"It's a special election, only two names on the ballot," Van Susteren cautioned. "Only one race. There's a long time between now and November. So this was a Bill Young Republican district for a long time. And while, of course the Republicans are going to use this against the Democrats, the Democrats are going to be scared because they lost. This is just a special election. November is a long way off. Lots can happen. This was a Republican seat for..."
Whether CD13 was won or lost on the ACA is open to debate. What's not in question is that Republicans came out in far larger numbers than Democrats in what was basically a straight-up 50/50 swing district (actually 37-35 percent plus GOP). And the plain fact is that Democratic voters historically don't show up at the polls in the same numbers for an off-year election like this year vs. a presidential election.
And let's face it. Although Barack Obama won CD13 twice, Alex Sink (no disrepect intended) is no Barack Obama, a point made by Georgetown Professor Dyson.
Well, there is a charisma gap. So you have to acknowledge that. Obama for all of the faults that people have assigned to him certainly can galvanize the base. And I think Katrina is right, the Democrats have to figure out a way to galvanize their base.
"If we can paraphrase Shakespeare it's much ado about something. The something is not necessarily the fact that the Democrats are just losing. It is as you just indicated, you know, these special elections are special, that means that they're district laden. That means that, look, in 2009 and '10, the Democrats had three special elections that they won, but they go beat badly in the 2010 mid-term election. So it doesn't necessarily (inaudible) well or ill for respective candidate depending upon the special elections. I think we have to..."
Over on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace accurately noted that Republicans had a 13-point edge in turnout on Tuesday, and asked PBS' Judy Woodruff how much of a bellwether CD13 truly was?
She replied that while the conventional wisdom was Obamacare, Democrats are freaking out about the lack of turnout.
"There was a Republican registration advantage, but Democrats got their voters out in 2008 and 2012. They're not get — they didn't get the voters out in this special election. The former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said this week this is a screaming siren warning to Democrats that turnout is going to be a much bigger problem than they have even anticipated. They have to — they are worried about that. The excitement, the enthusiasm, is on the part of Republicans, whether it's to kill ObamaCare, or against the president. You don't see that kind of enthusiasm on the part of Democrats."