During Wednesday's edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe program, one of the main topics of discussion was the victory of Republican David Jolly over Democrat Alex Sink in the special election held on Tuesday to fill the seat in Florida's 13th congressional district that had been occupied for decades by Rep. Bill Young until the GOP official's death last year.
One guest -- Jim VandeHei, editor and co-founder of the liberal Politico website -- declared: “It’s really hard to spin” the loss because this is “bad news for the Democratic Party” as the country heads toward the midterm election in November. “Republicans suck slightly less than Democrats,” he added, “and that’s where they’re getting an advantage.” [See video below.]
Despite the fact that Barack Obama won the district in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, VandeHei said that this time, the GOP carried the Tampa-area district with 48.5 percent of the vote, defeating Sink, whom he referred to as “a real-deal candidate” and a former hopeful for Florida's governorship. She attracted 46.7 percent of Tuesday's turnout.
Democrats had been hopeful, “clearing the field for Sink, the state's well-known chief financial officer and the party's gubernatorial nominee in 2010.” On the other hand, he indicated, “Republicans failed to recruit their top picks, leaving Jolly to fight a bruising three-way primary.”
Many pundits considered this election the first real test of the Affordable Care Act, a health-care overhaul Obama considers his greatest legislative achievement. As a result, the Politico editor explained, Republicans and Democrats funneled almost $12 million into the contest and called in such political heavy-hitters as former president Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan, a former vice presidential candidate.
With the words “Jolly Good Win” on the bottom of the screen, VandeHei claimed that the Republican's win had little if anything to do with the party's candidate.
He then hammered David Jolly by noting:
The guy is a lobbyist. He was recently divorced. He went around the campaign trail in pinstripe suits with his 26-year-old girlfriend. Republicans in Washington thought he was a bad candidate, and he won a tough district. This is very bad for Democrats.
They didn’t win this because they liked [Jolly] as a candidate, or they liked his policies. If you look at his ads, and you look at the polls -- they don’t like president Obama. … They don’t like ObamaCare, and those two things alone sunk a candidate who raised more money and almost won the governorship in your state.
“With each piece of news, there is nothing that is fundamentally changing the public's perception of the law, and that's why most Democrats are running against ObamaCare in the swing states,” VandeHei indicated.
"Health care has profoundly re-engineered politics as we know it; it's the biggest issue," he asserted. "If you're the Koch brothers, your fund-raising is going to be so much easier now because you have the silver bullet. You have the way to take it to Obama in a way that nobody thought possible.
"Many Democrats are just trying to stay away from it and the president,” he added. Because of Obama's extremely low approval ratings, “he's not going to be campaigning for candidates, and he's not going to be in most of those states.”
The pundit stated that all of Jolly's ads said these things: “I'm not Barack Obama. I'm not for ObamaCare. She is.”
Co-host Joe Scarborough explained Sink's loss by stating: “You don't fight on enemy terrain. Consultants had her stand in front of a camera with a sign that said 'Fix the Affordable Care Act,'” a strategy the co-host described as “a horrible mistake.”
“You can't do this on the campaign unless you like losing,” he remarked. “ObamaCare is absolutely deadly. You can't embrace that.”
Also during the segment, the hosts aired a clip of Jolly's acceptance speech in which he said: “I have good news tonight: No more commercials!”
Another guest in Wednesday's program was MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd, who declared that Democrats running for office during the midterm election would gain nothing by distancing themselves from Obama and the Affordable Care Act because it would be an obvious campaign ploy.
He continued: "If you’re a Democrat and you go out there and say, ‘Oh man, health care, it scares me, I don’t want want president Obama around,’ voters are going to know you’re full of it, that you’re just playing a game with them."
Todd also said that Democrats have not found a way to avoid sounding “defensive” about the law.
Good luck with that, especially since the website rollout and implementation of ObamaCare has been described as “a complete disaster” and a failure in convincing young people to enroll in the program, which will need their money to pay for treatment of illnesses and other problems experienced more often by elderly people.