CLEARWATER (CBSMiami) – The race to replace the late Representative Bill Young between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly will come to a crescendo Tuesday in a special election. Both sides see a potential victory as validation for their respective world view heading into 2014’s mid-term elections.
However, reading too much into the race may give both sides false hope.
Congressional District 13 has gone for President Barack Obama in the last two elections, although narrowly. But, the Republican Young held the district’s seat until he passed away last year.
Jolly and the GOP made the initial few weeks of the race a referendum on the Affordable Care Act. However, the pitch hasn’t gained quite the traction that was expected.
Both parties have called out the big guns with Democrats having a robo-call recorded by former President Bill Clinton. Representative Paul Ryan has vocally supported Jolly and Senator Rand Paul is trying to talk libertarian voters into supporting Jolly instead of Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby.
Overall, the two parties have spent almost $10 million trying to secure a victory in the district which is 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat, and 24 percent independent.
Jolly has been outspent by Sink by a 3-1 margin, but has utilized big spending from outside groups to help narrow the spending gap.
Jolly has been put on the defensive in recent weeks because Democrats claim he worked as a lobbyist for a group that wanted to privatize Social Security and Democrats charge that Jolly “praised a plan ending Medicare’s guarantee.”
Republicans say Democrats used cuts to Medicare to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. But, Republicans almost unanimously supported the same cuts which were included in Paul Ryan’s GOP budget passed by the House of Representatives.
So far, roughly 125,000 people have already cast a ballot in the special election.
According to the Washington Post, Republicans lead Democrats in total ballots cast by a 42-39 percent margin. Yet, in 2012 Republicans had a significant advantage in early votes and Obama still carried the district according to the Tampa Bay Times. The Times also reported in 2010 Republicans had an 12,400 vote lead before election day, yet Sink carried the district in the gubernatorial election.
The bottom line will be that Sink can pull out a victory, despite a GOP registration edge, if enough crossover voters and independents break her way on Tuesday.
Independent voters are the hardest to predict, but Tuesday will once again decide which party will celebrate a temporary victory.
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