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Why did David Jolly win that election?

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(Bloomberg) – The Democrats may have trouble getting their people to turn out to vote in November.

David Plouffe, a onetime White House senior adviser and a strategist for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, made that argument this weekend in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

David Jolly, a Republican, defeated Alex Sink, a Democrat, March 11, in an election for a Tampa-area House seat left vacant by the death of Rep. C.W. Young.

Jolly won by a vote of 48.4 percent to 46.6 percent, after supporters waged a fierce television advertising fight that focused on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – Obamacare.

Sink campaigned on the need to fix Obamacare. Jolly called for repealing the law.

The election drew little more than half as many voters in the district as in the 2012 presidential race, when Obama won the area by 1.5 percentage points for re-election and Young was re-elected.

Former New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu, a Republican, said on Bloomberg Television that the result of the Florida vote is an indication that discontent over PPACA “will drive the election, that it’s a loser for Democrats.”

“Special elections in a run-up do generally point to where the trend is headed,” said Sununu, 49, who lost his bid for a second term in 2008.

Plouffe said the results have more to do with an enthusiasm deficit among Democrats than opposition to PPACA.

The results suggest that Democrats could face the same kind of election problems they faced during the mid-term elections in 2010, Plouffe said.

Sink lost mainly because turnout was higher for Republican voters than for Democratic voters, Plouffe said.

With 36 U.S. Senate seats up for election in November, Democrats face an electoral map in which the party will be “playing a lot of away games” in Republican-leaning states, Plouffe said.

Still, he said, some Republican-leaning states such as Louisiana and Arkansas, both represented by incumbent Democratic senators seeking re-election, have a “significant minority population” traditionally allied with Democrats.

Advances in campaigning with social media and analyzing voter data made by the Obama campaigns won’t be enough by themselves to generate high enough turnout for Democrats, Plouffe said.

“It’s not just about data and technology,” said Plouffe, author of the book “The Audacity to Win” following Obama’s first election as president. “The candidates themselves are going to have to do a good job inspiring [voters].”

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