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With 7 days to go, Alex Sink looks like CD13’s winner. For now.


More than 100,000 people have voted in the nation’s most-watched congressional swing-district race, and right now the data indicate it’s Democrat Alex Sink’s race to lose.

But not by much.

Aggregate and average out the polls taken in the Pinellas County seat since late January, when absentee ballots were sent out, and Sink edges Republican David Jolly by as little as 0.63 percentage points to almost 4 percentage points, depending on how you slice the data.

Libertarian Lucas Overby pulls at least 6 percent of the vote, perhaps more.

Still, it’s early. There's one week left. Much will happen and change.

The voted ballots won’t be tabulated until Election Day, March 11.

There are about 100,000 outstanding absentee ballots, which the election supervisor has mailed out but not received and/or been voted yet. The current 100,245 voted ballots (including absentee and a small number of early in-person ballots) account for about 22 percent of the district’s registered voters or 44 percent of the likely voter electorate if there’s 50 percent turnout.

Right now, the data tell us The Democratic Party is doing a slightly better job than it did in 2012 in the district, when registered Republicans outvoted registered Democrats by 5 percentage points.

As of last night, that 5 point turnout edge by Republicans has been cut by Democrats to 2.5 percentage points – the exact registration lead that the GOP has over Democrats in the district.

About 41.8 percent of absentee and early in-person ballots have been cast by Republicans and 39.3 percent by Democrats, as of election data posted last night.

In 2012, Republicans’ early/absentee vote total was almost 3.9 percentage points higher than Democrats. They then blew away Democrats on Election Day voting, by about 7 points. But Obama won the district anyway, by about 1 point, likely in large part because of the large number of third- and non-party voters in the moderate district.

This time around, the Libertarian Overby is poised to get a chunk of those independents, especially if the campaign remains this negative. The poll averages indicate he draws slightly more Republican votes than Democratic votes. And if the race is tight, this could make a difference that haunts the GOP.

Republicans still hope to increase absentee-ballot voting margins and they plan to win big on Election Day. And, considering Democrats’ huge margins in early in-person voting in 2012, the Democrats are behind this cycle.

But in looking at the intangibles we can’t measure -- the campaigns’ tones and reactions – Jolly is acting like he’s behind as well.

Jolly and some Republicans recently tried to attack Sink as a bigot and a racist over her immigration comments (background here). Desperation is a sign of trouble. More broadly, after running hard right, Jolly appears to be running back to the center. Course corrections are a sign you’re not sailing on the proper tack.

Indeed, Sink draws more cross-over voters (Republicans who vote for the Democrat) than Jolly (Democrats who vote for him), according to the last five polls** for which we have crosstabs that show the percentages each candidate draws respectively from Republicans, Democrats and no-party/third party voters.

Sink gets an average of 13.3 percent of the GOP vote; and Jolly gets 9 percent of the Democrats’ vote. And Sink marginally wins independents, 35.02 to Jolly’s 34.6. The topline: Sink 43 percent; Jolly 41 (a 1.66 percentage-point lead before averaging the averages).

Sink’s current lead grows to 3.5 percent if you apply the crosstabbed percentages to the ballots cast so far by party (e.g., multiply the 13.3 percent of Republicans who would vote for Sink into the 41,929 ballots cast by Republicans, etc.).

Sink’s lead dwindles to a mere 0.63 percent (43.88 to 43.25) when you rope in five other polls for which we don’t have the crosstabs.

To restate: this is all preliminary. These are estimates, guideposts.

Albeit, these are the data consultants are looking at. Averaging the polls together helps strip out stastical noise and bias.

But this is a guidepost. It it isn’t gospel. Among the problems with averaging polling is that it equates the surveys of a professional pollster who uses landline and cellphone polling (Fabrizio) with robo-pollsters (St. Pete Polls, the unknown Red Racing Horses) who only call landlines (and in one case, St. Leo Polls, also surveyed by Internet). 

And polls are estimates. And these are all aggregates based on estimates multiplied into fluid data. For instance, it should be noted that applying poll averages to voted ballots isn't fully an apples-to-apples comparison because the polls include percentages of undecided people; the voted ballots are cast by voters who have obviously decided). 

Also, the situation on the ground changes daily. The parties and campaigns are turning out their bases. There’s a week of voting left

But right now, Democrats have more to celebrate than Republicans.

** (The five crosstabbed surveys used: The Tampa Bay Times pollSt. Pete PollsSt. Leo UniversityFabrizio, Lee and Associates; and Red Racing Horses).

***(The five other surveys derived from two more data sets from St. Pete Polls, two from Jolly’s campaign and one from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)


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ed jenkins

The readers have stated numerous times that articles on political leaders and elections from distant places have no relevance to them and this hometown paper is losing subscribers every year because of this failure to listen to readers.

Angel Torres

Jolly should be able to bury her with that Freudian slip of a comment she made on latinos being really needed for gardening and making beds at motels. What is wrong with his campaign? Or is he that weak a candidate??

Bill Thompson

The district is pretty evenly split between dem's and rep's and is fairly moderate. Jolly is a right winger and is trying to moderate his right wing positions in an attempt to win. They should have run a more moderate candidate.

Jim Jackson

Running to the center is exactly what David Jolly has been doing. He is not pro choice. He is not for marriage equality. He is not for paying women equal wages as men, he does not want to fix the Affordable Care Act. He, in an act of desperation and appealing to Tea Party Voters wants to once more reverse the law of the land upheld time and again by the US Supreme Court.

rudi hagen

This article is very premature regarding a Dem win in CD 13. Republicans have increased their lead in early voting by more than 1,000 votes in the past two days. The Republican early vote total is now almost 3,000 more than Dems (it was under 2,000 just two days ago). If the pace of the past two days continues, the Republican lead could be 6,500 by election day. There are still 7 days of early voting plus election day (when Republicans usually do well).


The loser thompson is back hoping someone cares about what his loser ass has to say. Once again no one cares about your failure of a life which is the reason you support the party of losers, the democrats loser.

Bill Thompson

The republican should be running away with this race and he's not. That just shows how out of the mainstream he is. He's way out there in right field, as other commentators have wisely pointed out.


Shut up already thompson you loser. How dumb are you that you haven't figured out that no one cares to hear about your whining about your worthless life and why you vote for the loser party, the democrats.


Returned ballots are now R 42.0 D 39.2, R+2.8 and rising.

If you are an R or I in CD13, don't let Caputo (D) and his ilk discourage you from voting.

Bill Thompson

24% of the registered voters in CD 13 have no party affiliation and they will be the ones that decide this election, not the small margin spread between the R's and the D's..


Sink's a winner and it's not as close as the article portrays.


Thompson, you are correct! I am and I in CD 13 and sick too death of being hounded too death by the AFP, phone calls, home visits etc. I voted Sink because Jolly is a tea party idiot(they need their own party, don't belong in the R party) w/ AFP Koch money behind him. I am an I that leans center and votes D or R based on the most center candidate. I loved Young but this Jolly fellow is a Ted Cruz wanna be! We need less stone-walling idiots in Congress. Sink is woman for the job!



Returned ballots now R 42.1 D 39.0.

Rs picking up 1/3 of a percent per day in returned ballots.

Democrats fading fast.

Don't let shills like Caputo (D) keep you from voting.


Read Pete Schorsch's article in St. Pete Times as to why R "super voters" are turning out a little late in this race. Caputo (D) has no answer. Look for a nailbiter on election night.

Marty Martin

3/7/14....Over the past week, a half-dozen Washington Republicans have described Jolly’s campaign against Democrat Alex Sink as a Keystone Cops operation, marked by inept fundraising, top advisers stationed hundreds of miles away from the district in the state capital and the poor optics of a just-divorced, 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by a girlfriend 14 years his junior. The sources would speak only on condition of anonymity.

Marty Martin

3/7/14....Over the past week, a half-dozen Washington Republicans have described Jolly’s campaign against Democrat Alex Sink as a Keystone Cops operation, marked by inept fundraising, top advisers stationed hundreds of miles away from the district in the state capital and the poor optics of a just-divorced, 41-year-old candidate accompanied on the campaign trail by a girlfriend 14 years his junior. The sources would speak only on condition of anonymity.


The GOP is a dying party! when you get your butts kicked by over 13 MILLION votes by a fresh face senator from Illinois you've got problems! when you run idiots like bachmann, palin, perry, rommey, mccain, ryan! YOU GOT PROBLEMS!! the tea party is basically just republicans who are too embarrassed to actually call themselves republicans, thats why the GOP shrank by 8% from 2000 to 2012


I already voted against Jolly, mainly because I can't stand the Republicans. I really can't. They lie all the time and never do anything for the common people. In this race, all they did was send out a bunch of flyers attacking Sink, as well as some robocalls. I just got one the other day from something called the "Susan B. Anthony Foundation", which I hung up on. I'll be glad when they lose.

Bob Cztwin

now that the actual votes are counted, how good do you think this preliminary analysis was?

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