Wanna hear it? We’ve got to warn you – it’s a Tom Waits song. He isn’t exactly Tony Bennett. But this is the song.
There are actually a couple of definitions of whistling past the graveyard, and both of them describe what’s going on in the wake of yesterday’s upset win by Republican David Jolly over Democrat Alex Sink in the FL-13 special congressional election. From Wiktionary…
We picked this up as today’s Quote Of The Day – it’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz with a perfect example of whistling past the graveyard…
“The GOP underperformed tonight in the #FL13 – a district they’ve held for decades,” she tweeted.
And a little more…
“Republican special interest groups poured in millions to hold onto a Republican congressional district that they’ve comfortably held for nearly 60 years. Tonight, Republicans fell short of their normal margin in this district because the agenda they are offering voters has a singular focus that a majority of voters oppose: repealing the Affordable Care Act that would return us to the same old broken health care system.”
Here’s the head of the DCCC, Rep. Steve Israel…
“Democrats will fight for FL-13 in the midterm, when the electorate is far less heavily tilted toward Republicans,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel. “Despite those millions from Republican outside groups, they underperformed because the only message they offered voters — repealing the ACA — is out of touch and failed to bring them even close to their historically wide margins.”
Steve Israel’s – and Debbie Wasserman’s – problem is not with me.
It’s with Stuart Rothenberg. Here’s what Rothenberg wrote in January…
It’s rare in politics that anything other than a presidential contest is viewed as a “must win” — but the special election in Florida’s 13th District falls into that category for Democrats.
A loss in the competitive March 11 contest would almost certainly be regarded by dispassionate observers as a sign that President Barack Obama could constitute an albatross around the neck of his party’s nominees in November. And that could make it more difficult for Democratic candidates, campaign committees and interest groups to raise money and energize the grass roots.
Fundamentally, the district, left vacant by the death of longtime Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, looks competitive but has a slight Democratic tinge. Barack Obama carried it 52 percent to 48 percent in 2008, but he had a more narrow victory four years later, when he won 50 percent to 49 percent.
But fundamentals are only a small part of the Democratic advantage in the district this year. Campaign-related factors should strongly benefit the Democrats, as well.
The campaign-related factors that should have benefited Sink?
Well, she ran for governor in 2010 as a former state comptroller. And though she lost her race to Rick Scott, she actually carried FL-13.
She had a 4-to-1 spending advantage over Jolly in the race. And there was $12 million spent in it. $12 million spent in one congressional seat is a ridiculous, wildly disproportionate amount of money.
What’s more, as a recent gubernatorial candidate she had a massive name-recognition advantage over Jolly – a former staffer for the deceased incumbent Bill Young who was a lobbyist in Washington of recent vintage.
And for a cherry on top, Jolly just divorced his wife to take up with a girlfriend 14 years younger than him a mere few months ago. Though he seems like an articulate conservative and a potentially bright congressman, to call him a great candidate would be a stretch. He came with baggage, nobody knew who he was and he had zero money compared to his better-known opponent.
Sink didn’t even bear any Obamacare scars. She wasn’t in Congress when it passed, and she took a somewhat un-Democrat position to the effect that what she wanted was to fix it.
Oh – and, there was a Libertarian in the race who got 5 percent of the vote. You’d have to figure that was more Jolly’s vote than Sink’s.
Despite all of this, he beat her.
There is zero way to spin this positively if you’re a Democrat, and you look like a clown for trying.
Obamacare mobilizes Republican voters, and dispirits Democrat voters. Democrats are going to get killed in November unless the GOP finds a way to screw it up – and we might well be entering the kind of territory in which the GOP is going to win back the Senate almost no matter how badly they stink this election season.
The real question is whether the wave election that is coming can produce majorities and momentum the GOP can sustain through 2016. That’s a question with far more uncertainty surrounding it than what will happen this fall. The Sink-Jolly race is a bell tolling for Obamunism as practiced by the Democrat Party.