FL-19 results suggests slight GOP national lead; House control now a toss-up

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Apr 14, 2010 at 12:30

Democrat Tom Deutch won easily last night in the special election to replace Robert Wexler in Florida's 19th congressional district.  However, the enormous margin is not actually rosy news for Democrats nationwide.  Here is why:

Florida 19 Cook PVI: D + 14.8
This is a very blue district.  Given the results of the 2004 and 2008 elections, Democrats would be expected to win this seat by 29.6% (twice the PVI) if the national margin was precisely even.

Florida 19 Result: D +26.9
Duetch won last night by 26.9%, or 62.1%--35.2%. However, Kerry won this district 66%--33%, and Obama won 65%--34%.  So, Duetch slightly underperformed Democratic presidential candidates in this district.

Perhaps the district is trending redder, as Obama underperforming Kerry would suggest.  Perhaps this is still a good result for an open seat campaign.  Or, perhaps this suggests that Republicans have a slight lead in the National House Ballot.

I am going with the latter.  This is because my latest numbers on the National House Ballot, updated today, suggest that Republicans have taken a small lead:

US House of Representatives: Republicans +1.3%
Toss-up for overall control
Weekly trend: Democrats down 1.6%

Even if all of the various "questionable" polls are removed (Economist because it is Internet, Daily Kos because it isn't exactly a generic ballot, plus all of the Republican leaning polls), the result doesn't change at all.  Republicans still lead by 1.0%:

As Nate Silver discussed last Friday, Republicans will likely need to win the popular vote by 2-3% in order to win control of the House.  Given that Republicans have edged back into a lead in the national popular vote, and that these polls tend to underestimate Republican strength, control of the House of Representatives is now a true toss-up.

It's good that Democrats won the special election last night.  However, trouble still looms on the horizon.

Chris Bowers :: FL-19 results suggests slight GOP national lead; House control now a toss-up

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I don't get it (4.00 / 1)
Didn't you say that, to win the House, the Republicans would need to pick off something like 33 incumbents -- something Democrats needed two elections to do?  Doesn't that count as much as a generic ballot?

good honest take (4.00 / 2)
Too much Rah Rah! on this election on the other lib blogs. I checked wikipedia for previous results when Wexler was running. He ran unopposed sometimes but when did have an opponent they garnered a smaller percentage than the Republican candidate did this year. When Wexler was not an incumbant, however (1996) he won by a very similar margin as the Dem did last night.

This is another sign of more enthusiasm on the other side. Still time for that to change, economy, etc. etc. but losses seem likely.

I'm not sure what by elections prove (0.00 / 0)
Possibly they measure party discipline and partisan enthusiasm. The fact that many fewer voters turn out makes it hard to call it a sign of a general election, although everybody always points to them as evidence of what way the trends are going.

I don't think this result means that Democrats are safe, but it also doesn't mean they are in trouble either.

Right now, Republican enthusiasm is higher for sure. So if a general election were held now, they'd have an advantage.

If that enthusiasm gap continues into the fall then Democrats will be in serious trouble. If not then their losses will be moderate.

Clearly Democrats have a lot of work to do to re-assure voters before November that they are serious about tackling tough problems the country is facing and clearly up till now they have failed to adequately do it.  

Generic Ballot vs Incumbency (4.00 / 1)
While Republicans +1% would lead to Republican control of the House if every seat was empty, that obviously isn't the case.  Even with anti-incumbent fever, there is always a tendency to be against someone else's incumbent, not your own great guy you've voted for multiple times.

Incumbency is a well known advantage.  Any clue what the generic Republican advantage would need to be to shake that loose?

Recent polling says incumbents do ok (0.00 / 0)
While the question, "Should members of Congress keep their jobs?" is answered with really negative numbers (i.e., those bozos don't deserve to stay in office ... low job approval), there is a different answer to questions within district.

When the question is asked, "Should MY member of Congress be re-elected?"  the percentage in a recent poll is 58% in favor of re-electing their person.

That's still a pretty anti-incumbency mood, but doesn't look like a ton of folks are in danger.

[ Parent ]
OK, I'm confused. (0.00 / 0)
The national polling numbers are a tossup.  The turnout numbers in Florida for a newcomer might very well be different from the incumbent/powerhouse Wexler.  Couldn't this just mean that Deutch isn't as strong a candidate/campaigner as Wexler?  Wexler's pretty freakin formidable.

Also, how did the turnout numbers compare to late polling in the district itself?  That might be better data to compare.  If turnout was depressed in FL-19 for Dems versus polling data, that would be one thing.  But I'm just not sure you can extrapolate from Cook PVI to claim that Deutch underperformed.  Cook's numbers are totally fabricated and based as much on history as contemporary issues on the ground.

wexler (4.00 / 1)
when Wexler was not an incumbant (1996) he won 65.6% to 34.3% or a margin of 31.3.  So Deutch underperformed compared to that too.

[ Parent ]
totally braggadocio (4.00 / 3)
The Kerry result was higher in that district in 2004 even though the state went for Bush, while in 2008 the Obama number in that district was lower even though the state went for Obama in 2008.

In 2004 my daughter was the one in charge of that district for the Kerry campaign.  She ran a great campaign.

Even being her mother that's still true.  :-)

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

ha ha (0.00 / 0)
your daughter aside, and I don't know the district, there were areas where Obama underperformed Kerry. In many of those places we can attribute the difference to the race of the candidate.

[ Parent ]
And lots of old people who would have voted for Hillary (0.00 / 0)
but not him.  If you look at the numbers, he underperformed in blue collar areas and among the elderly.  He underperformed in a lot places wirh  base type Democrats....His campaign was aimed as much to the independents as base Democratic voters and in the primary states that is how the votes broke down.

I ascribe it to the fact that these voter were what I called mashed potato Democrats not quiche Democrats.  They don't vote for quiche Democrats like Tsongas, Bradley, Hart,  Adali Stevenson, the guys who value making the political process better more than they value making their people's better. I too have never voted for quiche Democrats.  And in the past neither did another part of the Democratic base, African Americans have traditionally voted for mashed potato Democrats, until 2008 when they proudly supported one of their own.

I think that's a much more encompassing explanation of the 2008 election.

I think that has changed. In 2008 election cycle,  racist feelings were repressed by many - within themsleves, in the media and among the political class.  That has changed  and racial animosity has now been unleashed and become overt.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
This is a special election, not a general, not even a primary (4.00 / 2)
Low turnout elections almost invariably involve a more conservative electorate. Y'all realize that, don't you?

So, in an open seat, off-year, special election he 'underperformed' by 4 points, compared to the highest turnout election in recent memory?

Re-do your analysis, please. You're not making sense.

Doug Kahn

If this election is evidence of a motivated (0.00 / 0)
right-wing electorate, I'm relieved. This was an election for a partial term with nothing else on the ballot. I confess I was a little concerned, because I really couldn't tell if anyone was paying attention. Turnout worried me to the point that I was out planting signs three hours before the polls closed. I'm no pollster or tea-leaf reader, and maybe I'm just buoyed by the win and the fact that Ted Deutch is an honorable and conscientious public servant, but I think the teabagger wave has peaked and that the Dems are now on the offensive.

[ Parent ]
FYI, it's Ted Deutch (0.00 / 0)
not Tom


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