Will November be a referendum on Obamacare?

Published: Thursday, March 13 2014 11:45 a.m. MDT

This Nov. 23, 2013 file photo shows Florida Republican Congressional candidate David Jolly, right, speaking in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. The special election in this stretch of coastal beach towns and retirement communities was expected to be a referendum on President Barack Obama’s health care law. Instead, in the waning days of the spirited campaign to replace the late Rep. Bill Young, another issue has roared to the forefront.

Steve Nesius, Associated Press

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Democratic candidates around the U.S. should be anxious after Republican David Jolly edged out Democrat Alex Sink in Florida’s 13th Congressional District special election Tuesday, according to Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam C. Smith.

“In Alex Sink, Democrats had a better-funded, well-known nominee who ran a strong campaign against a little-known, second – or third – tier Republican who ran an often wobbly race in a district Barack Obama won twice,” Smith wrote.

Outside Republican groups, Smith stated, successfully ran against Obamacare and it worked.

Most political observers expected Sink to win, said The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, but everyone should remember that this was a special election, resulting from the death of Republican Rep. Bill Young.

The ballots in special elections look nothing like that of those held in November, Cillizza wrote about the turnout, but “elections have consequences. Whether or not what happened Tuesday in Florida is a bellwether of anything, it will unnerve Democrats and energize Republicans.”

This election is evidence that Democrats will face defeat in November, wrote New York Magazine’s Frank Rich about an interview with Eric Benson.

Benson told Rich this race was a “bellwether to be sure" but not because of the results of this particular district’s special election (which had fewer than 200,000 voting) nor because “the entire country hates Obamacare.”

Benson said in the article "the fundamentals are far more basic." The structural aspect of a midterm race is that it is not as exciting as a presidential one and it brings in more “older white voters” and fewer “young and minority voters.”

Beyond that, Benson told Rich, Obama’s numbers are sinking and disapproval among Democrats is up to 20 percent, citing the March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

There are a couple things to take away from Florida’s 13th special election, according to Real Clear Politics senior elections analyst Sean Trende.

First, Sink got four points less than Obama received in the district, and if this is replicated in November, Democrats should worry. Second, Democrats were hoping to shift the narrative in their favor leading into November, and that obviously didn’t happen.

Erik Raymond is experienced in national and international politics. He relocated from the Middle East where he was working on his second novel. He produces content for DeseretNews.com. You can reach him at:



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