Florida Special Election Could Shift Strategy For Midterm Campaigns

Mar 13, 2014

A closely watched special election in Florida this week has the national political class talking.

David Jolly stands with supporters in January.
Credit David Jolly for Congress / Facebook

Republican David Jolly narrowly won the special election to fill the empty seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, besting Democratic rival Alex Sink.

The election was held Tuesday to fill the seat left vacant by longtime Republican Rep. Bill Young, who died last year.

Some pundits are calling the race an early test of President Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, as an election issue going into this fall’s midterms.

Is the outcome of this race a bellwether on Obamacare and how it will affect tight races this November?

Susan MacManus is a professor of political science with the University of South Florida. She joined Melissa Ross to discuss the implications of this week's election for November.

"One of the things that Democrats were trying out was to try to change the subject away from Obamacare," MacManus said. "They expected, if that was successful, that they were going to try to do that in other places."

McManus said national pundits are skeptical that Democrats will successfully be able to run campaigns not focused on the health law, especially following Tuesday's election.

"It really came down to this choice: If you liked the president and you liked Obamacare, your clear choice was Alex Sink, and vice versa," she said of the election.

"When you have a district that's only 2.4 percent difference between registered Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans slightly ahead, no surprise the results ended up looking like that."

MacManus said one of the big obstacles candidates will face in the run up to November will be how the campaigning of national political action groups affect local elections.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax.