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March 11, 2014

Do Candidates Matter?

First Read notes that tonight's special congressional election in Florida between Alex Sink (D) and David Jolly (R) can help us answer this question: "What's the more powerful force right now -- an individual campaign or the overall political environment?"

"Sink has a lot of the intangibles on her side. She has more money, a higher name ID (after running for governor in 2010), an opponent whose previous job was a lobbyist (about as despised of a political occupation as you can have), and a third-party candidate (Lucas Overby) who would probably take more votes away from the Republicans. So a Sink win would be a blueprint for survival for skittish Democrats: If you run a superior race, hold most of the intangibles, and take the health-care issue head on, you can survive."

"On the flip side, a Sink loss and Jolly win will rattle a lot of Democrats, because it would prove that the environment -- including a more GOP-leaning electorate -- trumps everything else. If a B-minus candidate running a C+ campaign who happens to be a lobbyist can beat someone who has more of the intangibles on her side, then that is going to scare the Mark Udalls, Jeanne Shaheens, and Jeff Merkleys running for re-election in blue/purple states in November."


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