Sean Trende has the post-mortem on the FL13 special election, and he warns not to read too much into the results. But then there’s this:
If there are any two things to take away from this, they are as follows. First, Alex Sink ran a little less than four points behind Barack Obama’s showing in the district. This is something we’ve seen time and again since the 2012 election. If this sort of drop-off is replicated in the average congressional or Senate seat in November, it will be a very, very long night for Democrats.
Second, Democrats were hoping for a narrative-shifting data point, which they did not get. Imagine, if you will, a congressional race that has been tied at 44-44 in polling for months. Then, suddenly, we get a poll that shows one candidate up 48-40. Now, that poll might well be an outlier. In fact, it probably is.
It might not be, however. That’s the key: For a candidate to open a lead, he has to get that first poll showing him ahead, and hope it is followed by a second one.
Democrats have been buffeted with a rash of bad news for most of the president’s second term, with the Republican government shutdown the only real respite. The president’s job approval ratings are weak, Democratic Senate candidates are polling badly, and Republicans are faring well in generic ballot polling.
If Sink had won this race, there would at least be an outlying data point that caused us to wonder if more was to come. As it stands, the race is fully consistent with what we’ve seen: Democrats underperforming their 2012 numbers.
I would add one other thing. The GOP was able to score a convincing win with an unexciting candidate up against a better-funded Democrat with much better name recognition. If nothing else, that should serve as an indicator of the relative voter enthusiasm on both sides.