By Dave Andrusko
The constant temptation in covering political contests is to take one particularly egregious example and conclude that it is symbolic or representative of the whole. But sometimes—painful as it is to watch—a candidate’s behavior does distill a party’s larger problems.
Enter Allison Lundergan-Grimes, the pro-abortion Democrat running against pro-life Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (Ky.). Nobody can figure out why she thinks refusing to say if she voted for President Obama works to her advantage. It insults the voter’s intelligence and doesn’t say a lot about her own political I.Q, either.
But there she remains, telling (in this case the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board), “You know, this election isn’t about the President,” etc., etc., etc.
“Toxic” is the word de jour for describing the President’s impact in most states. Usually that would be a gross exaggeration. In this instance, it captures the Democrats’ dilemma.
As we always begin, first the caveat. With the polls in so many mid-term elections running so very close, it is not prudent to conclude that Republicans will make the net gain of six seats in the Senate, allowing them to take control. (That did not stop the Washington Post’s Election Lab Monday from showing Republicans with a 94% chance of winning the Senate, which, of course, is a certainty they will walk back in a few days.)
But the advantages Republicans enjoy are nonetheless encouraging, as a piece by the National Journal’s respected Charlie Cook and an editorial in (of all places) the Denver Post illustrate.
Cook walks through all the competitive races, starting from the premise (as the headline implies), “Democrats Face Strong Headwinds in Fight to Keep Senate Majority.”
Those headwinds include “six Democratic seats up in states that Mitt Romney won by 14 points or more—coincidentally the same number of seats that the GOP must net to win a majority.” But, even so, three of those contests remain extremely close.
One example outside this circle is Colorado where the Denver Post threw its editorial weight behind NRLC-endorsed Rep. Cory Gardner (R) over pro-abortion incumbent Senator Mark Udall (D). The Denver Post’s editorial “pages don’t generally overflow with endorsements of Republicans in federal races,” Cook deadpanned. “This contest is extremely close, but Gardner appears to have a little more momentum at this point.”
Which brings us to what the Washington Post suggested may be the “limits” of the absurd “war on women” mantra. Nia-Malika Henderson wrote
“Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has talked about contraception and abortion more than just about any other 2014 candidate. Roughly half of his ads are about women’s issues. The focus has been so intense that Udall has been nicknamed ‘Mark Uterus,’ with local reporter Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post joking that if the race were a movie, it would be set in a gynecologist’s office. In a debate between Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner last week, Bartels, who moderated, used the moniker to describe him.
“For all of that focus — and the insistence from Democrats that Gardner’s record on women’s issues was the key to Udall’s reelection — the incumbent has watched the race slipping from his grasp in recent weeks, an erosion that many strategists believe speaks to the limits of the ‘war on women’ strategy.”
In endorsing Gardner, the Denver Post wrote
“Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”
An “insult to those he seeks to convince.” Amen to that.