Despite media accounts of a campaign in disarray, Republican David Jolly’s bid to win the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District can find some comfort in the latest returned-ballot data.
According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, 46,442 ballots have been returned by Republican voters compared to 42,612 by Democrats. This represents a 3,830 returned-ballot gap — a marked increase from a week ago when the Republican early-vote advantage was less than two thousand votes (36,370 vs. 34,487).
A surge this large before Election Day is out-of-the-ordinary in Pinellas County elections. It was not present in St. Petersburg’s 2013 municipal race. It was not present in the 2012 general election.
But is this late surge enough to carry Jolly to an upset of Sink? The Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo tells me he believes the GOP needs to be at a four-point advantage on Election Day. Right now, it is at 3.48%. That’s up from the 2.1% margin it was at a week ago, but it’s not the magic number needed for Jolly to prevail.
The conventional wisdom holds that Republicans will win the absentee and early vote. The GOP will probably even out-perform Democrats on Election Day. But, just as what happened in 2012, the independent vote is expected to break heavily for Sink, perhaps enough to overcome any early advantage held by Jolly.
Will that take phenomenon occur again in this special election? The Jolly camp is now suggesting that Libertarian Lucas Overby will actually be a drain on NPA votes that would have normally gone to the Democrat rather than libertarian voters that would go to the Republican.
That’s an interesting theory — one that can’t be proven until Tuesday.