Be prepared to hear about Republican David Jolly's come-from-behind victory in Florida's 13th Congressional District a lot over the next few months (years?). It's being hailed as proof that Obamacare is electoral poison and/or that the Republicans have figured out their ground game. That's probably all a little too easy.
"Special election results are overhyped but not any more so than most political stories (perhaps less so)," polling guru Nate Silver tweeted on Tuesday, well before polls closed. There are a lot of people out there paid to write about and opine on politics (hi!) and when there's only one election happening, it's like having 200 proctologists and one patient. So, the Tampa Bay Times gives us, "David Jolly's victory spells trouble for Democrats nationwide." The Hill calls it a "crucial Florida bellwether special election." And so on.
The argument for nationalizing the results is that Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a race that became a proxy battle over the political value of Obamacare. As The Wire noted on Monday, Sink was slightly favored despite not running hard against the health care program. Outside organizations eager to turn the race into an Obamacare referendum poured millions into the race, on both sides. And then Sink lost, to a candidate who was struggling to keep campaign tensions under control. NBC's Chuck Todd tweeted his analysis: "It's way GOP held FL13 that is so troublesome for Dems. Flawed underfunded cand wins, propped up by outside money aimed at health care". Slate's Dave Weigel, who'd done some of the best national reporting on the race, added, "If you don’t think Ds have a problem when they get 46% in a 51% Obama seat, please whistle quietly. You’re disturbing the graveyard."