Republican David Jolly won Tuesday's special election to fill the Congressional seat held by the late Bill Young in Florida’s 13th congressional district. Democrats have been claiming that Alex's Sink's loss demonstrated an underperforming GOP and put the Democrats in a strong position for the midterm's in November, but Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler says that claim is untrue.
The Democrats have been claiming the district was rated R+13, meaning a strong skew to the GOP and the fact that Jolly won by only 2% means the Democrats made up a lot of ground in the special election, but according to WaPo:
The Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index identifies the district as one of the more competitive districts in the nation—Republican plus 1 percent. (The PVI is based on how the district presidential vote compares to the overall national race.) Florida’s 13th congressional district ranked 230 on a list of 435 districts, with 1 being the most Republican and 435 the most Democratic.
In response, officials at the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pointed to polls showing turnout would tilt between 8 and 13 percentage points toward Republicans, even as they also showed a tight race between Jolly and Sink. “The hill is steeper in the a special election than a general election,” said Emily Bittner of the DCCC. “We went from R+13 to losing by two points,” which she said put the Democrats in a good position to win outright in the general election in November.
Charlie Cook, the editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, noted that Sink was an experienced candidate who previously had run for governor, while Jolly is lobbyist who was a political novice. “The expectation was that it would be close but that she should win,” he said. “The idea that Republicans underperformed in a district that Obama carried twice is laughable.” He added that it is “extremely rare” for someone to win special election and then lose the general election just a few months later.
Kessler concludes by with:
We know everyone has a job to do, but this is taking political spin to a ridiculous level. Yes, Young was a repeat winner, but he was a beloved incumbent. Democrats could write this off as a special election with no real ramifications nationwide, they could blame the failure to win on harsh attacks by outside groups and they could say it was a tough loss. But they cannot credibly say that the other party “underperformed” on its way to victory.
NBC News' Chuck Todd agrees with Kessler. On Thursday's Morning Joe Program he mocked the Democratic Party claims:
If I hear one more time a Democrat, in the White House: "oh, it's not a swing district, it's an R+13," team. Well it only was that because your people didn't show up? They didn't move. They still live in the district! They didn't leave!