Special elections are special

In a special election for a US House seat in Florida this week,  Republican candidate narrowly defeated a Democratic candidate in a hotly-contested race in a swing district.  And, what does this tell us about the coming 2014 midterm elections?

Yeah, that.  Of course, from all the breathless political journalists, there’s all sorts of great portents about Obamacare, etc.  Drum:

Yep. Basically, it was a tight race in a district previously held by a Republican but won by Obama in 2012. And Jolly ended up winning by two percentage points. There’s really not much of a lesson to be learned here aside from the fact that (a) it was truly a tossup district, and (b) Democrats have a really tough time with turnout in non-presidential elections. Eventually they’re going to have to figure out what to do about that.

Or from a PS professor friend on FB:

Alex Sinks in #FL13. As special elections go, this was a typical outcome — close seat held onto by incumbent party.

Special elections are special circumstances.  Trying to predict the fortunes of the midterms 8 months away based on that is a fools errand.  Until now, there’s been reason to think the midterms should treat the Republicans well.  Tuesday’s result doesn’t change that at all.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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