Rep. Cliff Stearns lost in his primary bid for reelection this evening. Left leaning tweets are pointing Stearns House hearings/rants on Solyndra and Planned Parenthood, but those were NEVER brought up in the primary. Rep. Stearns has a lot of the blame of the loss (boring ads, underestimating competition, unenergized base), but there are many other things that led to Yoho's primary win in this:
- The district had changed. With redistricting, about 1/3 of the voters are new to the district. There was some hubbub at the beginning of the primary season on which district he would run reelection for (currently rep in District 6) because of multiple homes. His district became more rural (than the primarily Marion County his old district was in), and a bit more conservative.
- Underestimated opponents - Stearns left more than 2M dollars in the bank.
- The rural counties (and Alachua where Yoho lives) went very strongly for Yoho, while all 4 candidates split the vote in the larger counties (Stearns had probably 40% in those larger counties).
- Strongly supported by Tea Party leaning Republicans - Yoho won every Tea Party straw poll in the district leading up to the election.
- A strong anti-incumbent bent to Yoho's campaign. He promised to not be there more than 8 years if elected, and blamed long term politicians for the mudslinging and ineffectiveness of Washington.
- Effective use of whatever advertising Yoho could muster. Living in the district, we saw only 1 ad (played several times) on TV, and was brilliantly done. He also effectively used social media (Facebook) and YouTube to promote his message.
A surprising defeat for Stearns, but not as shocking if you understand the dynamics of what happened in the district.