First things first, cue the Mancini Music. Enjoy the well earned and not often enough heard Baby Elephant Walk.
Now that that’s out of the way, on to the analysis.
Why Florida 13 Means good news for the GOP come this fall:
If for this first factoid and no other reason, this special Congressional Election is truly important, the Democrats really wanted this one, and thought they had a better than 50/50 chance to take this seat out of the R column and put it in theirs. They had a Republican seat in a district that skews towards their party demographically. The district voted in favor of Democrats for every other election other than the Congressional Seat, as its former occupant had been an establishment stalwart who’d held the seat since the days when dinosaurs roamed about. Barack Obama won the district twice. More important than that however, Alex Sink won the district four years ago in her run for Governor of Florida, a race she’d lost to the current Governor, Rick Scott. Sink was hand picked by the Democrat National Committee, came to the party with a huge war chest still brimming with cash from her failed Gubernatorial run, and faced no primary challenge worth mentioning. She enjoyed a 2 to 1 spending advantage, name recognition of 100%, and unlike her opponent, the generous backing of her National Party.
On the other side of the coin, the Republican National Committee had, on three separate occasions picked someone to take David Jolly out and subsequently failed. He survived a nasty primary, and began the race in the general election with about a buck and a half in his war chest. He did manage to raise, with zero help from the Republican National Committee, enough money that the Democrat spin meisters are still whining that their advantage was only 2 to 1, claiming that as the reason for their loss. Jolly entered the race unknown, as a former staffer working for Bill Young, the Republican who had held the seat since prohibition. Before working for Young, David Jolly had been the most hated of our species, a D.C. lobbyist. Those campaign commercials practically wrote themselves.
All of this combined to make the real point in Jolly’s win there. This one turned out to be all about the issues, (plural.) David Jolly didn’t waste time equivocating, (which is another reason for the GOP establishment’s antipathy towards the man.) He instead made it a point to draw clear differences between himself and Alex Sink. He ran on a strict, repeal of Obamacare position, and somewhat less reported, no amnesty for illegal immigrants. Sink ran on the fix it don’t end it position, and more importantly that famous, “we need to work together across the aisle while we hold hands and sing kumbayah,” tripe that we constantly hear repeated by our suspiciously incurious media punditry. Jolly came out staunchly against Gun Control of any kind, he was a strong advocate for unfettered free markets, against the minimum wage or any associated increases, against the ill fated politically correct approach to our ongoing battle with world wide Islamic Jihad. He came out against Common Core and was as vocal a climate change, “denier,” as has ever been heard. In short, he was one of the, “wacko-birds,” John McCain’s been warning could never win anywhere but in the Reddest of Redville places. Yet, he won in a district that Skewed D+2, and was populated by the vaunted Independent demo to the tune of 27%. His victory was proof yet again, that conservatism wins elections.
Why Florida 13 should be put behind us and not used as an excuse to count our chickens too early:
We have on average 4 or 5 special Congressional Elections between each such biannual cycle. Each one is touted by the media and all active watchers as a, “bellwether,” contest before the votes are cast. After each one, the winning side trumpets the truth of that previous statement while the losing side spins out their reasons why this is not so and how the winning side actually, “under performed.” The whole bit of Kabuki is actually comical if you give it a moment or two of your measured consideration. This contest certainly did not disappoint on that scale, as the tweets and soundbites delivered actually managed to blame the loss on Jolly’s unconscionable usage of actual money in his victory, despite the fact that he was so thoroughly outspent by a candidate with superior amounts of cash, I half expected him to be giving a concession speech wearing a barrel for effect.
The fact of the matter is that these elections, historically speaking, have in no way been a harbinger of things to follow. That does not mean that this election was not, but previously, no. The incumbent party has won an impressive 90% of these in the past, and there is no reason beyond conjecture to suspect that this was not in play in Florida a couple of days ago as well. In 2010 for example, Democrats took 3 of the 4 special elections, and that in no way predicted the walloping they took in November of that year. The fact remains, no matter what else is true, David Jolly represented the incumbent party in this special election, and it has been a Republican seat for over six decades.
Over confidence at this juncture can be often times more damaging than actually being behind. Karl Rove has written an interesting article for the Wall Street Journal on this very subject. While I realize that not many in our nation agree with much of what Rove has to say, either left or right, that does not change the fact that he still remains the most recent Republican campaign professional to win two Presidential Elections. While policy positions were never Karl’s strong point, and I personally never liked his advice to his candidates that equivocation and pandering to the, “moderates,” while assuming the base to be safe would win, he did manage to get a guy with a stuttering problem and a penchant for embarrassing malaprops elected to our nation’s highest office twice.
Rove’s true strength was always with something that is entirely lacking with every other GOP campaign guru. Karl, (or, “Turdblossom,” as he was affectionately referred to by his boss,) always succeeded with his ground game come election day. He knows how to get out the vote, and he recognized that positive effort in Florida 13′s victor. Rove has told anyone who would listen, on more than one occasion, that without the GOP ground game in either the 2000 or the 2004 election, both efforts would have been defeats for his candidate.
Republicans also substantially erased the Democratic edge in get-out-the-vote. Ms. Sink had Team Obama and its Florida ground game, which delivered a 2,988 edge among the 131,713 voters who cast an early ballot. But Mr. Jolly crushed her by 6,445 of the 52,565 who turned on Election Day. Mr. Jolly, the Republican National Committee and the Florida Republican Party took on the volunteer-intensive portions of the ground game; outside groups took on the expensive, mechanical parts.
Part of Jolly’s victory in this race is due to the fact that he had a ground game, and it was a good one. If this election is a bellwether, that part must be looked at as well. He didn’t exactly administer a spanking to Ms. Sink in this one, and without his having had that crucial part of his campaign working well, it may not have turned out the way it had. A good ground game has not existed at any level of any Republican Campaign effort since the days when Karl Rove ran George W. Bush’s efforts. No matter what your personal feelings about Karl Rove happen to be, on this point he is spot on correct, and his thoughts should be heeded.
Cross Posted from Musings of a Mad Conservative.