No Time To Be Jolly About 2014

Dem cheerleader Paul Begala was right. There simply is no way to spin it. Democrat Alex Sink’s loss to Republican David Jolly in Tuesday’s special election was an absolute “nightmare” for her party.

Her campaign outspent his, although outside groups evened it up somewhat. She was no unknown backbencher, as she had narrowly lost a race for governor two years ago. Her opponent, a lobbyist who just left his wife and took his 26-year-old girlfriend to his campaign events, probably was no better than the third choice of the local party.

And although the Jolly campaign made some headway with attacks on her huge bonuses as former president of a major Florida bank, she went down because of voter dissatisfaction with both President Obama and his signature legislative accomplishment: Obamacare.

Democratic Party honchos continue to insist candidates are better off going all in for Obamacare. They say the worst is behind us, and as more Americans sign up and start to benefit from the law, Democratic candidates will be happy to have never wavered in their support. But they’re also getting ready to drop a bunch of money on research into how better to message the law and its various impacts to avoid further candidates being sunk like Sink.

No doubt, if you are Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Begich in Alaska, Kay Hagan in North Carolina or Mark Pryor in Arkansas, you would do well to not wait for the results of that study and to start being concerned right now about the impact Obama and Obamacare will have on your electoral hopes. If a swing-to-lean-Democrat House district carried twice by President Obama in a state he also carried twice can’t deliver for Alex Sink, you have to assume – for now – the message is not getting through.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report 

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Analysis & Political Strategy