It’s been the stated conventional wisdom that former Florida Chief Financial Officer and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink would sail to a comfortable win in the March 11 special general election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL-13). Since the Jan. 14 primary, however, two polls have been released projecting that Republican David Jolly holds a discernible lead.
The first survey, from St. Pete Polls as we reported last week, staked Jolly to a 47-43 percent advantage, but we illustrated that the respondent universe contained an over-sampling of Republicans. In the latest poll, from McLaughlin & Associates (Jan. 16-19; 400 registered FL-13 voters) for the Jolly campaign, the same flaw exists. Largely as a result, the McLaughlin data yields a 43-38% Jolly lead.
The district voter registration is: 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democrat and 24 percent Independent. The McLaughlin sample pull was comprised of 42 percent Republican voters, 35 percent Democrats, and 16 percent Independents. Therefore, increasing the Republican share by five full percentage points and decreasing the Independent factor by eight would certainly play to the Republican’s favor. Even accounting for the over-sampling, Jolly still portends to be in a better position at this point in the special election cycle than originally projected.
But, the situation could soon change. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) just launched a $200,000 attack ad onslaught against Jolly. The ad ties the Republican congressional nominee to his former lobbying clients such as the government of Pakistan and others for which he helped obtain millions of dollars in federal funding for their specific projects. Sink, using her substantial financial advantage, has simultaneously positioned herself on television with a positive humorous spot featuring she and her father.
Understanding that the polling flaw may be artificially pumping Jolly’s numbers, the fact that he matches up well against Sink is a positive sign for the Republican and suggests that this race may be closer than originally believed. We can now expect a major push from the Sink campaign and her outside group supporters. Though the key signs still point to her eventual win, Sink’s road to victory has suddenly become a bit bumpier.