Experts from across the country agree Republican incumbent John Mica is facing the toughest challenge of his decades-long career in Washington. Democrat Stephanie Murphy has been aggressive on the ground as well as over the airwaves and the race was a “virtual tie” according to a recent poll. Murphy’s strong campaign and fundraising caught the attention of political experts from across the country in a sign the momentum is on her side.
Brad Howard, Murphy’s campaign manager, has now released a “State of the Race” memo for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Here is the memo from Stephanie Murphy for Congress:
MEMO: FL-07 STATE OF THE RACE
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Brad Howard, Campaign Manager, Stephanie Murphy for Congress
DATE: Monday, Oct. 3, 2016
SUBJECT: FL-07 State of the Race
Former national security specialist Stephanie Murphy has put together a strong, well-organized campaign to unseat longtime incumbent Republican Congressman John Mica in Florida’s Seventh Congressional District.
Over the last three months, Murphy has increased her name ID throughout the district and brought the race to a “virtual tie” according to a recent poll. She has barnstormed the district introducing herself to voters, fired up her Democratic base, and held Mica accountable for his far-right, partisan voting record that is out of touch with his new congressional district.
Political experts across the country have taken notice, universally moving their expert predictions toward a Murphy win in November. As the campaign heads into its final 30 days, the momentum is clearly on Stephanie Murphy’s side.
Murphy’s overall message of change, security and equality is resonating with voters in this young, diverse and vibrant area of Florida. Florida’s Seventh Congressional District is now one of the youngest and most diverse districts in the state, comprising key voting blocs that are particularly turned off by not only Donald Trump’s toxic candidacy, but also John Mica’s out of touch positions.
The diverse, growing makeup of the district continues to be problematic for John Mica. Latinos make up 18.2 percent of the voting age population and African Americans make up 9.4 percent. Party registration is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, and Barack Obama carried the district with 50 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2008.
In an extremely competitive district with diversifying demographics that also includes the University of Central Florida – the nation’s second largest university – Murphy is well-positioned with voters who are rejecting Trump’s divisive, reckless politics.
In addition to a favorable national environment for Democrats, the recent Pulse tragedy in Orlando has put into stark relief just how out of touch John Mica is. As the greater Orlando community has come together with one voice to call for change, he has continued to oppose common sense gun violence prevention measures and maintained his anti-LGBT record. His refusal to join together with this movement has caught the attention of national groups including the brand new Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, which made Stephanie Murphy its first-ever endorsement and which has been running digital ads holding Mica accountable for his record.
“The poll shows Mica leading Murphy 48 percent to 45 percent. That basically puts Murphy in a virtual tie with the long term congressman, when the poll’s 4.9 percent margin of error is taken into account.” – Orlando Sentinel [9/21/2016]
Global Strategy Group and Lester & Associates conducted a district-wide survey of 401 likely November 2016 voters in Florida’s 7th Congressional District between September 13-15, 2016.
Key findings include:
- Murphy’s surging support has sent the race into a statistical tie, with Murphy down by only 3 points (45% Murphy/48% Mica) compared to her 18-point deficit in August when she was totally unknown (36% Murphy/54% Mica).
- Murphy has much more room to grow. Stephanie Murphy’s familiarity and favorability increased with every single demographic group. However, she is still known by just about a third of the electorate (34%) while the long-tenured Mica is known to about twice as many voters (64%). The fact that Murphy is in a statistical tie despite this 30-point name ID gap is very good news.
- Mica is weighted down by the national mood. In Florida’s 7th District, Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 6 points in a head-to-head matchup (47% Clinton/41% Trump).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Over the last few weeks, nonpartisan race watchers and political observers have taken note of the momentum behind Stephanie Murphy’s campaign and Mica’s new vulnerability:
- The Cook Political Report: Lean GOP a Toss-Up
“Set against a backdrop of redistricting, national tragedy, demographic change and hotly contested presidential race, FL-07 is exactly the type of district that could make the difference between Democrats picking up a modest (5-10) or larger (10-20) number of House seats on Election Night. It also happens to feature the most jarring contrast between an incumbent and a challenger in the country. This race moves to the Toss Up column.” [9/29/2016]
- Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report: GOP Favored a Toss-Up/TiltGOP
“Democrats are bullish on Stephanie Murphy’s chances against long-time GOP Rep. John Mica. It’s a young (for Florida) and diverse district that Clinton looks poised to win, and the congressman hasn’t had a serious general election test in years… Move from Republican Favored to Toss-Up/Tilt Republican.” [9/30/2016]
- Frank Bruni, The New York Times:
“…Prominent among the issues that Murphy, 37, is campaigning on is her 73-year-old opponent’s dismal record on L.G.B.T. rights. And some Democrats are convinced that this could work powerfully in her favor, especially at this time, in this place. Her district includes much of Orlando, though not Pulse itself, and is home to victims’ relatives and friends. Murphy was at Pulse on this day to show it to United States Representative Barbara Lee, a California Democrat who belongs to a quickly swelling army of party leaders who have traveled to Florida to stump for Murphy or help her raise money, reflecting the party’s identification of her contest as one that might flip a House seat from red to blue and help to erode the Republican majority.” [9/03/2016]