2014-02-25T180440Z_1_CBREA1O1E7Z00_RTROPTP_2_USA-POLITICS-FLORIDA

Analysis: In Florida, early test of Obamacare's potency in 2014 elections

Democrat Alex Sink speaks during a candidate forum with Libertarian Lucas Overby and Republican David Jolly, all candidates for Florida's congressional District 13, in ClearwaterBy John Whitesides INDIAN ROCKS BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – The November midterm elections are more than eight months away, but a battle for an open congressional seat in Florida has become a high-stakes test of a crucial question for the fall: how the Republican assault on President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul will play at the polls. The race to succeed the late Republican Bill Young in a March 11 special election will not dramatically alter the balance of power in Congress, where Democrats face an uphill battle in November to gain the 17 seats they need to reclaim a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Even so, both parties and their big-money backers see the race on the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast between Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink as a harbinger of the November 4 elections – a test of voter enthusiasm for campaign themes, ad messages and fundraising appeals. That is why voters in the St. Petersburg area have been bombarded in recent weeks by more than $5 million worth of television and radio ads, mailings and automated calls from the candidates and interest groups attacking or defending the healthcare law popularly known as Obamacare.

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