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March 12, 2014 9:43 AM Not a Game Changer

By Ed Kilgore

Alert news consumers may be noticing that conservative writers, having prepared themselves to blame their candidate David Jolly for blowing a special congressional campaign in Florida yesterday, are now beginning to get their “Obamacare referendum” banner up after Jolly narrowly won.

As I said yesterday morning, special elections rarely have any clear predictive value. All we really know now is that about 180,000 voters (as compared to 329,000 in the district in 2012, and 266,000 in 2010) in a district with a Cook PVI of R+1 gave a Republican a victory by a margin of 1.9% (about 3500 votes), with a Libertarian winning 4%. If you want to try to claim that represents some sort of history-bending or prophetic result, go right ahead, but it’s a bit absurd.

I’m guessing (and we can only guess) that the electorate that showed up was crazy old and mighty pale, but then again, if old white folks are voting Republican at the same levels as they did in 2010, that’s not a good sign for Democrats. Come to think of it, “Midterms Ahead!” is not a good sign for Democrats. But nothing that happened in Florida last night changed the odds in any significant way.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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