Liberals Should Fear Paul Ryan

paul-ryan-af8122f229b2f9384966368b48336fbe8250f30c-s6-c30Former 2012 Vice Presidential candidate and chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, has had a rash of success.  Ryan worked to engineer the budget compromise in late 2013 that capped spending within the 2011 Budget Control Act spending limits and ensured the government would not shut down yet again.  Ryan also recently released a 200 page document showing the waste and repetitive government organizations that should be streamlined to create greater efficiency and cost savings.

For these reasons alone liberals should fear Paul Ryan.  A budget wonk, he is far from a bomb-thrower.  Illustrating this is the fact liberals are trying to paint Ryan as a racist for his comments on the “inner city culture” of poverty seen in America.  Democrats took this to mean Ryan was attacking only blacks and Hispanics.  In truth, Ryan was talking about the fact in virtually every major city in the US, whether filled with whites or another racial group, the number of poor far exceeds those in suburban and exurban communities.

Ryan has proven his political acumen by winning wide victories in his suburban Wisconsin Congressional district.  While Obama won the district in 08 Ryan won in a landslide.  In 2012, Ryan won the district by far exceeding his and Romney’s margins on the “other” ticket.  Democrats are loath to admit it but Ryan fits his district perfectly, especially after 2011 redistricting.  Ryan also could be an integral part of remaking the image of the GOP from an antiquated, fire-breathing party to one that focuses on pocketbook issues and streamlining government.

Ryan continues to swear he has no interest in running for the White House in 2016.  The number of top-tier candidates considering running make this highly plausible.  In 2009. Republicans wanted him to challenge than Senator Russ Feingold (D).  Ryan demurred, preferring to stay in the House and wait for a GOP takeover (it occurred a year later).  Now, many believe Ryan can make a bigger difference as chair of the House Budget Committee.

Ryan has already put his toe in the water for greater political aspirations.  In 2011, his Medicare Reform idea met strong support and opposition.  His 2012 run gave him nationwide ID with Republicans and his 2013 budget compromise showed he can work both sides of the aisle, even while risking alienating the party base.  But running for President in the short-term may be a bridge to far.  Along with fellow nerd and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ryan seems more interested in forging a reform agenda from a less public stage.

Beyond the fact Ryan is a hard target to paint as a racist, bomb-thrower or GOP hack, liberals would be wise to note that Ryan has worked on a number of other issues with Democrats.  He helped sponsor legislation to expand charter schools nationally and has been working with House Democrats to start talks on a grand bargain (likely tax cuts/hikes and SS and Medicare Reform).  Democrats should also note that Ryan has sponsored tax reform that benefits the working poor by doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit and eliminating the marriage penalty (though this would benefit better off couples as well).

Ryan’s working class roots also aid his reform minded goals.  Ryan’s reform efforts are not doctrinaire conservative fair.  They seem to strike a more populist tone that seeks to benefit all instead of certain groups as both parties cater to.  Lastly, Ryan’s history does not consist of skeletons in the closet, ensuring future runs for higher office, if he goes that route, cannot be derailed by his past actions.  Still, his policy positions can be lightning rods for supports and opponents alike. Democrats are unlikely to let the public forget he planned to “Throw grandma off the cliff.”

Liberals should fear Paul Ryan.  He may never be President but he has the ability, in policy and tone, to change the course of this nation back on a sound fiscal track.




Might these be the reasons Idaho is a low-budget state

low paying jobsMany liberals and administrators in my state bemoan the fact Idaho’s GOP majority tend not to be fans of growing the state budget and pouring money into infrastructure and planning projects.  But perhaps it might interest these critics to note a new analysis from the Bureau of Labor Analysis.  The report finds that Idaho has the second lowest income of any state in the country, 49th overall, and its per capita income barely met the national average increase of 2.6% in 2013. Combine this with the fact that Idaho now ranks as the state with the second highest percentage of minimum wage working adults and you start to see a pattern.

Idaho’s low-income population means that politicians and administrators are rightly wary of adding new tax burdens on individuals.  Among the most prevalent and perhaps valid arguments are those that tie spending now to the future.  Issues such as education, healthcare and transportation fall under this category.  Proponents of a larger budget argue that spending more on education in particular would lead to an Idaho with a better educated workforce.  True certainly.  But an educated workforce by itself does not mean higher paying jobs coming to Idaho.  As I have wrote before, Idaho has a significant demographic shift causing minimum wage jobs to be created.

Transportation and infrastructure are argued in much the same way.  Spending on Healthcare would lead to higher at risk populations having access to preventive medicine leading to earlier and better health outcomes.  Infrastructure spending, whether it be on roads or rural internet access, would ensure Idaho can cater to a diverse business and demographic community.  Unfortunately, however, all these efforts cost a large sum up front.  It is a sum Idahoans and many elected officials seem unwilling to pay.  They may have a point, much to the dismissal of their critics.

Idaho’s high percentage of minimum wage workers and a low per capita income mean the substantial up front costs will burden current taxpayers.  While it may benefit a future generation of Idahoans it is debatable whether current Idaho taxpayers would see the benefit.  It should be mentioned politicians are naturally risk averse and supporting bigger budgets and tax increases is something both the left and right agree on as not being smart policy or politics.

Of course critics can rightly point to the fact that on education many taxpayers are already fronting the bill in the form of supplemental school district levies that help districts make up the shortfall in state funds.  But even this argument has its limits.  Many of these levies are not large and merely seek to keep district services at a minimum level (d0 more with less) and only property owners bear the cost of the supplemental levies.  Ironically, this leads to a smaller share of wealthier taxpayers (property owners) paying more, something national Democrats love but it seems Idaho Democrats hate.

It might be a good start for all involved in the debate if this obvious fact is mentioned.  Idaho is a low-income state and this has an impact on what the state can do and afford.  It would be nice if the naysayers would do more than criticize and argue spending more is the answer.  Targeted spending that works within a conservative state budget is the right way to improve quality of life, increase per capita income for all and make Idaho a better place to live for future generations.


Billionaires Fund Democrats as well

Liberals are loathe to admit it but they have their own Koch Brothers.
Liberals are loathe to admit it but they have their own Koch Brothers.

Democrats seem to have settled on a unified theme for 2014: “Republican billionaires bad, ours are good.”  Okay, admittedly a little simplistic but that is at the core of their message.  More specifically, Democrats have been attacking the billionaire Koch brothers who have donated to Republican candidates and GOP leaning groups to the tune of millions of dollars.

What Democrats are remiss to mention however is that they also benefit from the donations of billionaires.  Just look at the candidacies of one of their top candidates this cycle, Congressman Gary Peters in Michigan, running to replace Senator Carl Levin.  Peters has been running ads in the state for two weeks attacking his opponent, former Secretary of state Terri Lynne Land, for accepting the support of the Koch brothers.  But if one were to look at Peter’s donor list they would see it is a who’s who of billionaires; George Soros, Jeffrey Katzenberg and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.  So really, is the Koch brothers spending that much worse than that of liberal billionaires?

The Koch brothers spending also pales in comparison to those of numerous other liberal groups.  Unions remain the number one spender in elections despite several setbacks in recent years (Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan).  In fact, three of the top five givers to SuperPAC’s were Democratic donors.  The Koch brothers do not even come close (#59 on Open Secrets).  Also, Democratic donors Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer (the liberal billionaire who plans to spend $100 million this cycle to support climate change legislation) were number 1 and 2 on the Sunlight Foundation’s List.

So it seems a little disingenuous for Democrats to argue the GOP is funded by billionaires when they are as well.  And it seems the more the party tries the more voters will likely tune them out.  Democrats have reams of polling data that argues otherwise of course.  They would not make such attacks if they did not score well with focus group participants.  These focus groups have surely revealed that voters do not like outside forces buying elections or telling them what to do.  However, these attacks seem a little beside the point.

While voters may worry about money in politics it is ultimately something voters cannot change in eight months.  It also is not easily connectable to their economic status or bottom-line.  But choosing between the policies of a Republican and Democratic candidate for office does.  So for a candidate like Gary Peters who benefits from running in a blue state the attack might work just enough for him to mobilize his base.  But for many other Democrats running in red states like Arkansas, Alaska, North Carolina and Louisiana the benefit might be much less.

Take Senator Mark Begich in Alaska for example.  In his campaign’s first TV ad, Mark Begich blasted the two men by name for running what he called misleading advertisements against him. “I don’t go down to tell them what to do, I expect them not to come up to Alaska and tell us what to do,” said one person featured in the ad.  True, but nobody said that voters actually are basing their decision in November on what the Koch Brothers do and say.

Yet, Democrats continue to think the attacks will work.  If they can get voters to focus on the spending of two billionaire tycoons they hope to turn the public’s attention away from Obamacare, the flagging US economy and the President’s dismal job performance.  For some Democrats such as Michelle Nunn in Georgia the strategy may backfire however.  The Koch brothers own a plant in the state and if Nunn joins in attacks against the brothers her opponent is sure to say she is attacking business in the state.  Nunn needs the support of moderate, fiscally conservative business owners to beat her GOP opponent.

National Democrats are surely aware that this strategy is sure to gin up their donor base.  But again, money can only go so far in the races Democrats need to win to retain their Senate majority as well as gain some ground in state elections across the country.  Arguing the other guy is worse is not always a winning strategy as Democrats learned in 2010 and Republicans learned in 2012.

Brad Todd, a Republican strategist, put it simply, “Right now, Democrats can’t figure out how to get away from Obamacare, so they are digging around desperately for something off-topic to discuss. I had the same emotion in 2006 when it was obvious the war was going to beat us but we weren’t willing to run against the war that we believed in. There is never any magic trick to get out of this box when your party is on the wrong side of the only issue voters care about.”

And right now the issues voters care about are the ones the Democrats are on the wrong side of!

Education: The Fault Line that could split the “Coalition of the Ascendant”

testCalifornia recently became ground zero for a divide that appears set to split the “Coalition of the Ascendant.”  This near majority-minority electoral bloc carried Democrats to victory up and down the ticket nationwide in 2008 and 2012.  But despite the coalition having the same partisan voting preferences, their policy preferences seem to have diverged in the biggest state in the union: California.

To give some context, before I go into this split and its potential consequences, some background seems to be in order.  In 1996, voters in California supported Proposition 209.  Prop 209 banned the UC system from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any racial or ethnic group in college admissions, hiring and contracting.  Asian-Americans, now a solid contingent in the Democratic Party, backed the ban in 1996 by massive margins.

Fast-forward to today and they still support the ban.  Today, Asians also constitute a whopping 38% of undergrads in the UC system but were a mere 11% of the state’s electoral vote in 2012. It seems most of their Democratic counterparts do not however.  In January, a planned referendum to repeal Prop 209 sailed through the Senate.  But since January the effort has been on life support as eight Democratic lawmakers in the House who are part of the Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus have stated they do not support such an effort.  Furthermore, three Asian lawmakers in the state Senate have publicly declared they have second thoughts about the bill.

Unsurprisingly, no Republican plans to back the bill in the House.  Also unsurprisingly, many Democrats blame the GOP for division on the issue.  This is a hard argument to believe considering Asians in 2012 went for Obama over Romney by a bigger margin than Hispanics did in the state.  Furthermore, no Republican represents a state or Congressional district with more than a 10% Asian population.  So exactly why would Asians oppose lifting the ban due to Republican attacks when they do not listen to Republicans regardless?

Sometimes there are divisions within a party and other times there are tectonic shifts.  These shifts tend not to happen at once but in sequences.  White Southerners gravitated towards the GOP over decades and not a single election.  Similarly, Northern whites followed the same pattern into the Democratic Party.  It is possible what we are seeing happen in California is the first part of such a shift.  If this is true it has significant potential to reshape the electoral landscape of America.

Education is an issue that unites all Americans on the surface.  But dig below that surface and you find deep ideological, personal and partisan divisions.  For example, charter school reforms in my home state (Idaho) have been welcomed and pushed by the strong GOP majority while all Democrats, along with a handful of Republicans, have opposed such efforts.  In Wisconsin, legislative Republicans allowed inner Milwaukee kids to attend charter schools in the suburbs on a party-line vote.  Nationally though, despite Congressional gridlock and dysfunction, Republicans and Democrats have come around to the idea of supporting charter schools.  This agreement was forged by a longtime liberal and a young conservative.

Education policy is an area of politics where many interests need to be advanced.  In the past the interest most advanced was those of the unions and the NEA.  Today however, the NEA seems to find itself under attack for its efforts to stall reform from both GOP and Democratic administrations.  Liberal and conservative alike realize the system needs to be reformed but like most everything in politics the debate is over how; charter schools, vouchers, more funding for inner city schools?

Where this pertains to electoral outcomes can be seen in places such as the South, Wisconsin, Idaho and now California.  Providing one’s child with a good education in an economic environment where going to college is a near necessity to earn a decent wage is of paramount concern to parents of all backgrounds and beliefs.  Convincing parents of the opposite political persuasion the GOP represents their educational preferences gives them a reason to back the party.  The more the GOP does this and the more liberals and Democrats deny these same parents and their kids access to a good quality education or at least seems to be catering more to another constituency,the more likely the GOP is to win these parents votes.

Of course the GOP should not expect the Democratic coalition to split rapidly or at all.  After-all, if Democrats in California shelf the idea  most Asians will likely default back to supporting Democrats.  Asian-Americans since the mid-90s have shown a proclivity for supporting more activist government.  In other majority-minority areas across the country the same is likely to occur.  Note that many African-American legislators oppose charter schools and vouchers and still get reelected even as parents and their kids get nothing from a traditional public education system.  Fortunately, there appear to be at least a few young Democrats, such as Senator Corey Booker in New Jersey, who see the potential in education reform and charter schools for minority children.

Republicans and Democrats alike should be mindful that in a two-party system, coalitions are likely to bend and fracture.  The political parties must try to occupy a space where they appeal to a majority of voters racial, social and economic interests.  Democrats are learning how hard that is to do even in a state where they control all levers of government, have super-majorities in the legislature and the loyal opposition is a shrinking, token force in the state.

Scott Brown makes New Hampshire another Headache for Democrats

496b00c0-9c7c-350d-916a-97bd4c6f0024Scott Brown’s recent announcement he is all but certain to enter the Senate race in New Hampshire has Republicans gleefully eyeing making Democrats battle for another competitive Senate seat.  Brown has toyed with the idea for months and recently formed an Exploratory Committee.  Well, that lasted about two weeks before he all but made it official he was entering the race.

Before Brown entered the race, Republicans had a subpar field to take on Senator Jean Shaheen.  None had polled near Shaheen.  Admittedly, Brown starts off as an underdog to Shaheen.  Brown polls behind her but due to the lateness of the state primary and his national network of donors, Brown has time and money on his side to turn around his fortunes.  It also helps that nobody in the primary field appears likely to be able to challenge his effort.

It is no secret that Democrats face a tough midterm environment this cycle.  Democrats are defending 23 Senate seats to 10 seats for Republicans.  Republicans are set to gain open seats in West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana while also being competitive in deeply red states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina.  To make matters worse for Democrats are that purple states such as Michigan, Colorado and now New Hampshire are set to see competitive races this cycle.  Thus, Democratic resources are set to be stretched that much thin.

But does Scott Brown have a realistic shot at winning New Hampshire?  After-all, the state went deep blue in 2008, deep red in 2010 and back to deep blue in 2012.  More so, Brown is vying to be the first Senator since the 19th century to represent two states in his Senate career.  Democrats argue no and Republicans have a viable reason to be optimistic.  Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I won’t rehash all the demographic or voting characteristics of New Hampshire.  If you want a longer analysis you can read it here.  Basically, as go Rockingham and Hillsborough counties go New Hampshire.  In 2010, Kelly Ayotte carried both easily while in 2012 Romney and Obama split them.  Heading into 2014 it is imperative that Brown win both and by fairly decisive margins.  If he does not he will struggle to make up the margins in the more traditionally Democratic North and Western counties of the state.

Democrats would be wise to realize the impact Obamacare could have on the race.  The recently concluded special election in Florida showed the issue still has salience in purple/swing districts and states.  So far, Shaheen has not been targeted heavily by GOP outside groups on the issue.  However, with Brown in the race, these groups now have a candidate they can expect to make the race competitive and thus may be incentivized to get involved.  Americans for Prosperity has already spent over $30 million on ads across the country.  Crossroads 360, an establishment backed 3rd Party Group, is also likely to spend on the race.  Voters will know that Shaheen voted for the law by the time November rolls around.

Whether Obamacare is enough to swing the race by itself is unclear this early in the cycle.  Shaheen is not without her attacks though.  With Brown in the race, her campaign will be sure to play up the notion he is a carpetbagger and would not represent the best interests of the state in DC.  Brown formerly represented the state of Massachusetts from 2010-2012.  Of course Brown can make the same argument based on her votes for Obamacare.  Shaheen’s campaign will also attempt to parallel a familiar national Democratic attack against the GOP based on the party being in bed with the Koch brothers.

These attacks may only go so far.  Brown has a moderate profile which should not turn off moderate Independents in the state.  He also has a centrist fiscal profile, despite his call to repeal Obamacare, that may peel off swing Democrats from Shaheen’s camp.  For her part, Shaheen is an unabashed liberal who is still fairly popular in the state.  Brown’s favorable ratings in the state have swung depending on the poll.

Whichever way this race goes national Republicans are only so happy to make Democrats to defend another seat.  Republicans do not need the state to shift the Senate if they take a Colorado, a Michigan and/or six of the seven Senate seats Democrats are defending in states Romney carried in 2012.  However, if Republicans lose Kentucky or Georgia the state would provide a buffer for their loss.   Regardless, Brown’s entry into the race signifies yet another prominent Republican is sensing blood in the water for Democrats.  Democrats may not want to admit it but there is blood in the water and Republicans seem eager to exploit it in purple/swing states like New Hampshire.

Democrats Should be Scared about 2014

eba3415fb47dba01480f6a706700c370Last week could not have been much worse for Democrats.  On top of the party’s surprise loss in FL-13 on Tuesday came a survey from NBC/WSJ polling.  The poll proves just how precarious the Democratic position is heading into the 2014 midterms.

The poll finds the President sitting at 41% approval with 54% disapproving.  Unlike previous surveys which have shown the President is personally popular, the WSJ/NBC survey finds a mere 41% have a favorable view of the President while 44% do not.  On specific issues, such as the economy his approval spread was 41/56 and on foreign policy a 41/53 spread.  Asked whether respondents would support a backer of the President 42% said it would make them less likely to do so compared to 22% who said more so.  Also, a full 57% of voters said that the country was in a recession and a mere 26% said the economy would improve in the next 12 months.  Combined with FL-13 it is possible the Obama coalition is fraying.  There is more data from the survey that supports this hypothesis.

When respondents were asked which party they preferred to control Congress, Republicans led by a point.  One might be tempted to note a point is not a significant lead (within the poll’s margin of error) and one not necessarily be wrong.  But keep in mind that this survey has traditionally overestimated the Democrat’s advantage to the tune of three to four points.  Also, for reference, before the 2010 GOP landslide the last NBC/WSJ survey showed Republicans winning the generic ballot by two percent (they won the House vote by almost 8).  Lastly, the survey finds that Obamacare could have a significant impact on 2014.  A mere 35% of respondents said the law was a good idea and a solid 49% said it was a bad idea.

There is a plethora of other survey data suggesting Democrats are swimming against the current this cycle.  Take polling results from Hickman Analytics (a Democratic pollster that seems more trustworthy than PPP).  Hickman surveyed four key Senate races with Democrats running for reelection; Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.  The results in each race show that despite significant name ID advantages, Democratic incumbents are stuck in tough races and well below 50% support.

More specifically, in Arkansas, Mark Pryor leads Republican Congressman Tom Cotton 40%-37% among Likely voters.  But when the Definite Voter screen is utilized, Cotton jumps out to a 41%-39% lead.  This despite Pryor having an 18 point name ID advantage.  Obama is likely dragging down Pryor as the Commander-in-Chief has a morbid 32/65 favorable spread in the state.  In Colorado, Senator Mark Udall led (Buck dropped out to make way for Congressman Cory Gardner) Ken Buck 46%-42% among LVs and 46%-43% among DVs.  Obama has a 44/52 favorable rating.  In Louisiana, despite coming from a political dynasty, Senator Mary Landrieu trails her likely GOP opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy, 46%-42% among LVs and 49%-40% among DVs.  This despite enjoying a 53 point advantage in name ID.  Obama has a 41/56 favorable spread.  Lastly, in North Carolina, Senator Kay Hagan is in a dogfight with likely challenger Thom Tillis, leading among LVs 45%-41% and DVs 47%-42%. Obama was at 46/50 in the state.  Hagan’s name ID stood at 85% compared to Tillis’s at 34%.

Other survey data has suggested close races.  The most recent survey out of Colorado from Rasmussen Reports found Udall up a mere point, 42%-41%, against Gardner.  In Michigan, older surveys from PPP and EPIC-MIRA have found former Secretary of State Terri Lynne leading Congressman Gary Peters.  Even if the GOP does not win these races they at least force the Democrats to spend money and play defense in usually safe places.

None of this points to the GOP winning a landslide this November.  But short of disaster the GOP is likely to pick up at least two Democratic House seats (red district retirements) and three open Democratic Senate seats (MT, ND and WV) while Democrats are playing to win, at best, only two GOP Senate seats (GA and KY).  This is to say nothing more about the above races the GOP has excellent shots at winning.

FL-13 should be a vivid reminder to Democrats that turnout matters as does intensity.  Republicans tend to show up more in midterms regardless but a drop-off in Democratic turnout, perhaps seen in FL-13, could be disastrous for the party holding its Senate majority.  Minority turnout dropping in North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana would be particularly devastating for the party.  A drop-off in turnout could also significantly impact the partisan composition of many state legislatures and statewide executive races on the ballot this November.

Democrats insist they are ready for 2014 and they may very well be.  But current polling shows and FL-13 showed that you can only do so much to mitigate the impact of a toxic national political environment and a dissatisfied voting public.  If nothing else, this should have Democrats in tough races running scared and looking to distance themselves from the President and his policies.  If they still can.

What FL-13 Says about 2014

231829_5_With the votes tallied in Florida’s 13th Congressional District Special election, Republican David Jolly pulled a decent sized upset over Democrat Alex Sink (48.5%-46.7%).  The unexpected news has lit up the political analysis scene as virtually everybody had the race pegged as Sink’s race to lose.  Even Republicans seemed to have assumed Jolly would lose.

Sink, the former 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, avoided a contentious primary.  Jolly, not even the first choice of his party, had to win a three way primary and than transition to the general.  Jolly struggled to raise funds as Sink easily raked in the cash.  Jolly was aided by outside groups that helped make up his cash shortfall but in the end Sink and Democratic leaning groups outspent Jolly and GOP groups by slightly less than $1 million.

Sink had over four weeks to air ads introducing herself to voters in the district and paint a picture of herself as a problem-solving moderate before Jolly introduced himself.  Sink also started the race with better name ID as she had actually won the county (which encompasses the entire CD) in her 2010 gubernatorial bid by a not insubstantial 6% margin.  Registered Republicans still outnumber registered Democrats in the county by a few thousand but turnout and outside factors seemed to have determined the race here and that is why Democrats should be fretting.

Jolly’s campaign was largely built around opposition and repealing Obamacare.  Sink, following a Democratic playbook in use since last year, tried to argue the law should be fixed.  However, her lack of details on how to fix the law probably made Jolly’s firm stance more credible.  Florida-13 was also closely watched because it is one of the true remaining swing districts in the country and it had been trending purple since the 90’s.  Bill Young, now deceased, had kept it in GOP hands even as this was happening.

Worrisome for Democrats running in red-leaning states/races and even purple states/races is that it seems the fundamentals of the race were overwhelmed by the national environment (ie. Obamacare and the economy).  Admittedly, Sink was not as entrenched as incumbents like Landrieu (LA) and Pryor (AR), but she was running in less conservative territory and she maintained stronger name ID  and outspent Jolly.  Even purple state Senators like Shaheen (NH), Udall (CO) and Warner (VA) may not be safe if the district’s voters reflect a trend in the nation’s voters.

Of course this was just one special election.  Turnout was substantially down from 08, 010 and 012 as expected.  But Democrats were upbeat that they would not suffer a turnout drop-off.  Indeed, Democrats bragged that absentee ballots showed they were doing better than they did in 012 (when Obama won the county).  If so, this means Jolly significantly over-performed among election day voters or Democratic projections on turnout were well off the mark.

It is the latter that should worry Democrats more.  Their modern coalition is one of low income voters, minorities, the young, single women and suburban residents.  Without Obama at the top of the ticket and a stagnant economy turnout among minorities and the young might drop. For example,  this has already been seen in special elections for open state senate seats in Virginia  In Senate races where Romney won in 2012, minority turnout is crucial for Democratic success as white voters in these states have abandoned the party in mass.  It may be the case in Florida’s special election we saw some combination of minorities and the young not showing up to vote.

Democrats have countered that this is just one special election.  Special elections tend to attract a whiter and  more Republican electorate.  True.  But that does not make Sink’s loss any less worrisome for the party.  She held all the cards in the race and the one thing she could not control, the national environment, likely did her in.  If that is true it means Democrats control of the Senate is in serious jeopardy this November.

Addendum: Embattled Senator Mary Landrieu (LA) recently stated she thought flood insurance, not Healthcare, decided the race.  It is certainly an interesting idea but both Sink and Jolly were supportive of the flood insurance bill that passed the House last week, making the idea dubious at best.  Of course, this argument coming from Landrieu is understandable considering her entire strategy to deal with Obamacare is to embrace it and promise fixes.  Well, in FL-13, she just saw a similar Democrat do the same thing and lose among a more friendly electorate.