Tomorrow night, St. Pete Polls will be back in the field to survey the handful of state House seats still in play this election cycle. The last time, we polled more than a dozen districts to gauge the competitiveness of the races. This time, we will poll less than half of that. That’s because, even in seats where demographics might suggest that the Democratic candidate has a fighting chance, the polls reveal a harsh reality for Florida Democrats.
Despite what the polling and other information suggests, our friends and colleagues at The Florida Squeeze, a thoughtful blog administered by a handful of Democratic and progressive activists, are full of wishful thinking about Florida House Democrats’ prospects.
Taking perhaps an indirect shot at this website — “… the over-hyped expectations of a Republican sweep backed by GOP-leaning or supporting blogs were more than just positioning and media rhetoric” — editor Kartik Krishnaiyer writes, “Republicans who have long dominated the messaging in most Senate and House races have been caught flat-footed time and again as the Democrats now appear poised to minimize losses in the House and break-even in the Senate.”
Krishnaiyer goes on write, “Democrats have … run a disciplined and tight ship in House and Senate races, while the Republicans have been haphazard and have allowed their messaging to become generic and stale.”
I have a lot of respect for Krishnaiyer, so you won’t read me calling him names or any other such thing. However, I don’t know what Krishnaiyer is looking at or reading (that I am not) which would suggest that Democrats have done anything to minimize their losses. The prospect of the GOP holding a veto-proof majority in the Florida House AND Senate is still a very real possibility.
Krishnaiyer points to no data, such as fundraising totals or polling numbers, to back up his claims. He simply proclaims that in state Senate District 34, “Ellyn Bogdanoff’s campaign against Senator Maria Sachs has been a dud to this point.”
Even if Krishnaiyer is right — that Bogdanoff’s campaign has been a “dud” — the polling doesn’t back him up. Surveys from St. Pete Polls, which Krishnaiyer recently commended, show the race moving from a double-digit lead for Sachs to a tie. Whether Bogdanoff ends up beating Sachs is obviously unknown, but her effort to date has not been a dud.
As for the state House races, Krishnaiyer writes that “the culture of cronyism in the Republican party has led to stale campaign strategy, a clear lack of enthusiasm among many activists which has been replaced by professional paid politicos doing much of the work of volunteers and everybody claiming a piece of the spoils because of previous work.”
I, for one, do not know what Krishnaiyer is talking about. What I do see, as someone who follows the Twitter accounts of every state House candidate, is a very energetic Republican volunteer base, more so for its legislative candidates than even the statewide candidates. Each Saturday this Fall, my Twitter timeline has been filled with tweets and photos of large walk parties, organized often by other Republican elected officials, for candidates running in battleground seats.
But that’s what I see. Perhaps Krishnaiyer and Co., plugged in more to the Democratic side of the aisle see something different.
What anybody can see, however, is a clear fundraising advantage for GOP candidates. We’re not talking two-to-one advantages for GOP candidates, we are talking multiples of five and six. And that is not counting what the political committees are doing on their own.
By my math, there are about eight state House seats still in play: 29, 30, 47, 59, 63, 65, 68, 112.
The most recent polls in House District 29 here and House District 30 here show major leads for the Republican challengers. In fact, if those seats weren’t held by Democratic incumbents, I’d take them off the board. The Republican, Mike Miller, is leading against the Democratic incumbent, Linda Stewart, in HD 47. Republican incumbent Ross Spano appears to be in little trouble in HD 59.
The three Tampa Bay seats still in play will probably be a split, with Republican Chris Sprowls picking off Democratic incumbent Carl Zimmermann and two you-pick-’em races in HD 65 and 68. Same goes for the scrum in 112.
Bottom line, in none of these seats have the ‘Republicans fallen flat,” as Krishnaiyer argues.
A dedicated Democratic activist currently working for Attorney General candidate George Sheldon, Krishnaiyer can be forgiven for indulging in a little wishful thinking about his party’s prospects this November. But he should keep those dreams limited to the top of the ballot, because down the ballot looks like a nightmare for Florida Democrats.