Tampa Bay: The Prize for Moderation?

The Story:

Kristen Carlson (D), who won her party’s primary by playing the centrist in a center-versus-left contest, looks unexpectedly strong in the final days of her general election campaign to represent Florida’s 15th District in the US House of Representatives.


Carlson’s opponent is Ross Spano (R), a state legislator who would be an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump if elected to the House. Spano leads by a 9:1 ratio among voters who approve of the job the President is doing. The district, which includes many of the eastern suburbs of Tampa and exurbs to its north, is majority Republican, though not by an overwhelming margin.

Carlson defeated a Bernie Sanders-style progressive, Andrew Learned, in her primary in August. If she defeats Spano, as well, the other centrists in the Democratic Party will surely use this race to make their case in the continuing intra-party struggle that they are better at reaching out to the independents and moderates who decide elections.

The Thing to Know:

A New York Times poll conducted in mid-October showed Carlson and Spano dead even, at 43% each, with 14% undecided. Another poll, from SurveyUSA, shows them tied at 45%, with just 10% undecided.

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