Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Booker Wins in NJ; Sink Heading to Congress?

In House, Senate on October 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

New Jersey

For the past three weeks virtually all the pollsters surveying the special New Jersey Senate campaign projected an 11-point victory for Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), and that’s exactly what happened.

Last night, Booker defeated former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) by a 55-44 percent margin. The electoral result allows him to fill the remaining portion of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) final term in office. He will be eligible to run for a full six-year term in November 2014.

Booker began the special election as the heir-apparent to this seat, and commanded early polling leads that exceeded 20 points. His advantage then decreased to low double-digits, and that’s where it stood until the end of the campaign. Republicans never put up much of a fight for the seat, virtually conceding the race to Booker from the time Gov. Chris Christie (R) decided to call a special election to fill the remainder of the term. He could have made an interim appointment that would have lasted through the 113th Congress, but decided to allow the people to choose Lautenberg’s successor.

Christie did appoint then-state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa (R) to serve in the Senate on an interim basis. He will depart when Booker is officially sworn into office. Last night’s election results return the Senate Democrats to a 55-45 advantage.

More than 1.3 million individuals cast ballots in the special general election, just about 24 percent of the registered voter base. Turnout was about average considering there was little suspense or competitive excitement associated with the campaign.

FL-13

The retirement of Florida’s 43-year congressional veteran Bill Young (R) opens his politically marginal 13th Congressional District for the first time in more than four decades, and a new development likely makes it the best Democratic conversion opportunity in the country.

At the beginning of the week, 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink made known her potential desire to run for the seat. Now, a brand new St. Pete Polls flash survey suggests that she will be a strong favorite to win next November.

According to the poll of 1,741 registered FL-13 voters that was fielded on Tuesday, Sink would easily defeat 2012 Democratic Party nominee Jessica Ehrlich, who had been seeking a re-match with Young, by a 63-20 percent margin.

Against the Republican who has attracted the most attention from a potential group of candidates, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Sink would lead 51-34 percent. If the race yielded a Baker-Ehrlich general election pairing, the Republican jumps out to an early 35-31 percent edge.

The 13th District, contained solely within Pinellas County, is one of 16 districts that President Obama carried yet elected a Republican to the House. While Young won a 58-42 percent re-election last November over Ehrlich, the president scored a slight 50-49 percent advantage over Republican nominee Mitt Romney within the confines of the 13th District, exactly the same result he recorded statewide.

Just within the past two weeks, Sink publicly declined to seek a re-match with Gov. Rick Scott (R), who defeated her by just one point three years ago. It appeared that she would be out of politics at least for the 2014 cycle. Now, however, her public comments indicate a clear willingness to run for this congressional seat, even though she lives outside the district boundaries.

Expect her to officially announce her candidacy within the next 30 days. Should she run, the campaign rating would immediately move to Lean Democrat, and will likely get stronger.

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