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Is Ros-Lehtinen Beatable Now?

October 13, 2013

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A new poll indicates that Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen trails in a hypothetical contest with a generic Democrat if the election were held now.  This is a truly startling result, and suggests that public revulsion over the GOPs tactics may really be hitting home, since her re-election in Florida District 27 in Miami-Dade was generally considered a no-brainer (pardon the pun).

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In 2012, Ros-Lehtinen ran virtually unopposed for re-election after the Democrats failed to come up with a real candidate.  Yes, there technically was someone running as a Democrat—one Manny Yevancey—who somehow got on the ballot and then was never seen again.  There was no information available about the elusive Mr. Yevancey, who might as well have been plucked from a Carl Hiaasen novel.  There was no website and no campaign—it really looked like a joke.  And of course, Ros-Lehtinen won in a walk.

The new poll was run by Public Policy Polling and sponsored by the progressive organization Move On as one of several done in selected districts throughout the country.  See the full results here.  (The poll was done October 8-10 among 620 respondents in the district.)

Basically, the poll gives an unnamed “Democratic Opponent” 47 percent over Ros-Lehtinen’s 45 percent if the election were held now.  Even more interesting, after respondents were informed that Ros-Lehtinen supported the shutdown, the margin grew significantly:  53 percent for the “Democratic Opponent” to 42 percent for the incumbent congresswoman.

I’m no expert on polling methodology, but even considering that the survey was commissioned by a Democrat-aligned group, this is eye-popping.  The Miami New Times, where I first saw this, noted several caveats about the poll—perhaps rightly.  Even so, the Miami-Dade Democratic committee should be sitting up and taking notice and looking at potential candidates who might run a real campaign.

Ros-Lehtinen is energetic and likable.  She comes across as a reasonable, thinking person—something quite rare among Republican politicians these days.  She has been willing to break party taboos on a few issues such as gay rights (she has a transgender child).

But when push comes to shove, she almost always votes the Republican party line, which now means the Tea Party line.  On the government shutdown and impending debt ceiling limit, she has shown no inclination to deviate from the absolutist position of the GOP extremists.  Basically, she gives a nice false face to her party’s destructive intransigence.

It’s time to replace her.  If the Democrats get off their asses and find a decent candidate, it might actually happen.

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