‘Referendum’ falls far short in special election

‘REFERENDUM’ FALLS FAR SHORT IN SPECIAL ELECTION…. It seemed like a good strategy at the time. With Robert Wexler (D) giving up his U.S. House seat in South Florida, a special election would offer conservatives a chance to create a “referendum” on the Obama presidency. After all, the election, held yesterday, would be the first since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, and Republicans could ride the wave of voter anger to an upset.

Indeed, the Republican candidate, Ed Lynch, ran on a strictly anti-Obama platform, vowing to repeal the new health care law and railing against the recovery efforts that rescued the economy. Lynch sought to position himself as the “next Scott Brown.”

So, how’d that referendum turn out? The backlash against Democrats and the president propelled Lynch to a 26-point defeat.

Democrat Ted Deutch won a special election Tuesday for a Florida congressional seat in the nation’s first federal election since the passage of the Democrats’ health care plan.

Deutch held a sizable lead over Republican Ed Lynch late Tuesday night in the Palm Beach-area 19th District, prompting Lynch to concede.

Deutch had 62 percent of the vote compared to Lynch’s 36 percent with 97 percent of the precincts counted, CNN affiliate WFOR reported.

“We’ve heard for months that tonight … is a referendum on health care, it’s a referendum on the (Obama) administration, it’s a referendum on what direction this country is going,” Deutch said last night. “Let me tell you something, what we learned today is that in Broward County and Palm Beach County, Florida, the Democratic Party is alive and well.”

Putting the race in the larger context, there have been six special elections for U.S. House seats since the president’s inauguration 14 months ago: NY20, IL5, CA32, CA10, NY23, and FL19. Democrats have won all six.

Rep.-elect Deutch will be sworn in fairly soon, and the House Democratic caucus will return to 254 members.