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.