Absentee ballots show tight Fla. special contest

Republican David Jolly could have reason for concern from the return rate of absentee ballots in the Florida special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R).

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More than 64,000 absentee ballot votes had been cast as of Wednesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and 42 percent came from Republicans, while only 39 percent were Democrats.

The content of those ballots aren't known yet, but only a slight edge with GOP voters is disappointing for Jolly, indicating lower turnout than Republicans had expected.

Republicans have predicted a turnout advantage in the race, due to persistent frustration with ObamaCare and a more favorable midterm political climate, during which the party in the White House typically sees its turnout fall off somewhat. They're hoping that will help them succeed in a competitive race that's seen Democrat Alex Sink tied or within low single digits of Jolly in every survey of the race in the swing district. 

But as the Tampa Bay Times reports, the absentee ballots show a closer race than 2012, when Obama’s campaign was working to turn out Democrats in the state. Then, Republicans had a nearly 6 percent advantage in absentee ballots.

The GOP lead in absentee ballots doesn’t necessarily translate to a win on Election Day, either, as both Jolly and Sink have drawn some voters from the other party in polling of the race. But in a recent Tampa Bay Times poll, Sink took twice as many Republicans as Jolly drew from Democrats, indicating the race might be tighter than it seems.