In a time of war, plague and economic upheaval, Sen. Mark Udall (D) chose to base his re-election campaign on fear. Not fear of any of those things, but the irrational fear that the Republican nominee — whoever that turned out to be — was gunning for women’s birth control.
The Republican nominee turned out to be Rep. Cory Gardner, and he pre-empted the birth control fear game by advocating over-the-counter birth control.
Udall went so far all-in on the phony “war on women” schtick that he morphed into “Mark Uterus.” And he’s now tanking in the polls.
[O]bservers also say that Udall hasn’t helped matters by running a campaign that seems to be designed as a replay of the campaign that helped Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet eke out a win in 2010, despite lagging in the polls until the end. Back then Senator Bennet won, in large part, by focusing on women voters as well as reproductive rights. His opponent, Ken Buck, was a cultural conservative who believed abortion should be banned in all instances, and he made tone-deaf statements, once telling an audience they should vote for him “because I don’t wear high heels.”
In the end, women voted for Bennet by a margin of 16 percent, according to the exit polls, and were a big reason behind his victory.
Udall’s advisers have clearly wanted to re-create that victory, and reproductive rights have been such a focus of Udall’s campaign that his critics began calling him “Mark Uterus.” Unlike with Bennet, the focus has turned into a negative for Udall.
“It’s a case of the Democrats fighting the last war,” says Peter Hanson, a political science professor at the University of Denver. “The Republicans have seen this strategy and were prepared for it.”
Along with that, voters have seen reality. Udall has tried stoking phony fears, while he has either ignored or embodied real fears. He is a leftist prog Democrat who participated in the attack on Second Amendment rights, and who helped Obama foist Obamacare and his other disastrous policies on Colorado. Gardner just has to point that out, and he has.
The fear game has a shelf life, and it’s less likely to work for you when you’ve proven yourself to be scarier than the other guy, and oblivious to real threats at the same time.