Democrats didn’t lose the midterms because women stopped caring about reproductive choice

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

cory gardner liar

From LifeSiteNews, which I read so you don’t have to, comes this bit of taunting about the recent midterm elections:

U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado was exhibit A. Curry said, as “a decent senator from a powder blue state,” Udall “shouldn’t have been in any trouble at all – and this consultant-think totally infected him.”

During his campaign Udall railed against Cory Gardner’s alleged desire to outlaw contraception and abortion so tirelessly that a reporter for the Denver Post dubbed him “Mark Uterus.” Already by September, Lynn Bartels wrote, “If Colorado’s U.S. Senate race were a movie, the set would be a gynecologist’s office, complete with an exam table and a set of stirrups.”

Curry said Udall’s political consultants recycled what they thought was a winning issue, because they are out-of-touch with anyone outside a corporate boardroom or the Beltway.

Proving, once again, how anti-choicers are really just mean little schoolyard bullies at their core. Seriously, it seems like fully half the articles at LifeSite are basically “neener neener we got one over on you dumb liberals!” But anti-choicers weren’t the only ones mocking Democrats for defending reproductive rights and making them a campaign issue last year. They were joined by the mainstream media, who were casting about for someone to take the blame for what were sure to be Democratic losses. It became conventional wisdom so strong that it led Bill Curry to conclude a mere one day after the election that women felt “manipulated” by Mark Udall and other Democrats.

What that conclusion either misses or deliberately ignores is how Republicans did that autopsy thingy after the 2012 election and then were carefully coached to avoid speaking about topics like abortion, contraception, and rape. If they were absolutely forced to answer to a stance they held, the strategy was clearly to lie in the most bald-faced manner possible about it, as Cory Gardner did repeatedly, denying that the personhood-at-conception measures he supported and even sponsored would, in fact, explicitly confer legal personhood upon fertilized eggs. Gardner cut ads claiming that he would never go after a woman’s right to choose and that he would support selling contraception over the counter, something he has no control over as a member of Congress as only the FDA has the authority to approve that. It appears that Gardner not only manipulated women, but he did so dishonestly.

Whether or not Cory Gardner’s dissembling over repro rights sowed enough benefit of the doubt in the female electorate of Colorado to help him prevail over Mark Udall, the fact is that Democrats did better with women voters in 2014 than in the last midterm.

An analysis of Tuesdays’ exit polls by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the family planning provider, shows that Democrats actually lost women by 1 point in 2010. But this year, 52 percent of women voted for Democrats, compared to 47 percent voting for Republicans. Women of color, specifically, showed strong support for Democrats this year, with 91 percent of black women and 67 percent of Latinas favoring Democrats.

Men, meanwhile, preferred Republicans by the same 14-point margin in 2010 and 2014, suggesting that Democrats have managed to improve their performance among women from the last midterm election without losing any ground among men.

The election proved “that even in a Republican wave election, women will favor the candidates who better support their health care priorities,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of PPAF.

Further proof that reproductive rights groups appear to be winning the overall debate, NARAL Pro-Choice America pointed out in a memo last week, is that many of the Republican candidates who won on Tuesday only did so after moderating their positions on abortion and birth control. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), for instance, who has previously indicated his opposition to all legal abortion without exceptions, spoke directly into the camera and told Wisconsin women that an anti-abortion bill he signed “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

Obviously Democrats need to improve performance in midterms but anyone who tells you Democrats should downplay support for reproductive rights doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Republicans wouldn’t devote so much energy to avoiding and lying about their positions in general elections if that were true. Sadly, there are elements of the Dem elite that want the narrative to be that reproductive rights hurt Democrats in 2014 because it takes the spotlight off their own failures. Remember these are the same well-heeled chuckleheads who told Democrats to be very, very afraid of the NRA.

4 responses to “Democrats didn’t lose the midterms because women stopped caring about reproductive choice

  1. captain*arizona

    ts you view of democratic voters with negativity. I don’t think I am superior to them. They ask why should I vote for you? Your answer of because they are supposed too shows what you think of them. Elitism is the bain of the democratic party. Latinos not rich old white men are the democratic partys future in arizona. 100 mexican americans turn 18(voting age) every day in arizona we should registering every one them not hoping that they will. Not worrying how a rich old white man can win a primary if we do.

  2. I guess I interpret the criticism of Udall’s strategy differently. I don’t think the criticism was aimed at his making choice and contraception issues, but rather doing so to the exclusion of all other issues. The “conventional wisdom” among Democratic advisors seems to be that a candidate should wear his position on choice and LGBT rights on his sleeve, but try to avoid discussion of issues of economic justice and, in Udall’s case, immigration. That is proving to be a losing strategy.

    From my perspective, choice is a litmus test. I won’t support a candidate who fails to take a strong pro-choice position. At the same time, however, I won’t support a candidate enthusiastically if the candidate takes a weak position on issues of economic justice.

  3. No, the problem is the drop off in registered voters voting during mid-terms parallels negative advertising. Negative advertising is designed to discourage voting, and it succeeds. Our voters are more easily discouraged from voting. Our voters are more likely to think that the Presidential elections are the only ones that matter and more likely to feel disappointed when the President can’t accomplish things without a 60 vote majority in the Senate and a reliable majority in the House. We have not yet figured out how to educate, motivate, and build enthusiasm in our voters for mid-terms.

  4. captain*arizona

    If udall had courted the hispanic vote as fervently he would still be senator! We had the same problem in this state with rich old white men on their $$$ ego trip courting republicans who wouldn’t vote for them instead of hispanics who would have!