Down to the wire in FLA-13

A special election will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) in Florida’s 13th congressional district (the Tampa Bay peninsula area). Democrat Alex Sink is facing Republican David Jolly, with Libertarian Lucas Overby also in the race. The seat was held for years by Republican Bill Young, who died last October.

Republicans hold a registration advantage in the district and, as noted, have long held the seat. But the Democrats have some key advantages. First, their candidate, Sink, is well-known, having run for governor of Florida in in 2010 (Sink moved into the district from a neighboring county in order to run in this election). By contrast Jolly, a Washington lobbyist and former Young staffer, is not well known.

Second, Sink carried the district when she ran for governor. Third, Obama carried the district in 2012. Fourth, Sink has outspent Jolly significantly, as the Washington Post notes. Fifth, the Libertarian candidate is likely to siphon off more votes from Jolly than from Sink.

The most recent poll of the race is by PPP. Taken between March 7 and 9, it finds Sink leading Jolly by 48-45, with Overby at 6 percent.

According to the poll, Sink has amassed a 52-45 lead over Jolly among those who have already voted. Moreover, 60 percent of those who tell PPP they will vote have done so already. If true, this puts Jolly is a difficult position.

However, according to this report, the GOP holds a returned-ballot advantage of 4 percent, or around 4,500 votes. Moreover, the Republican edge has been growing, a good sign since in past elections most early ballots have been returned just before election day.

Note, though, that the PPP results aren’t necessarily inconsistent with the Republican edge in returned ballots. That’s because, at least according to PPP, “independent” voters favor Sink by a better than a 2-1 ratio. Approximately 18 percent of the early ballots have been returned by voters affiliated with neither the Democrats nor the Republicans.

PPP makes much of the role of “climate change” in the election. It reports that 69 percent of voters in the district say that it’s important for their new member in Congress to address the problem of climate change, and 44 percent say it’s very important. Sink has been running hard on this issue and PPP finds that voters trust her more than Jolly to address climate change by a 48-31 margin.

Yet Sink falls short of 50 percent support, and I doubt that voters trust the libertarian candidate to rein in climate change.

In any event, Jolly has been closing fast. Three weeks ago, he trailed by 7 to 9 points. If you live in the 13th district, please do what you can to help Jolly on Election Day in this closely watched race.

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