The Democrats’ midterm battle strategy has been clear for a long time: Go negative. And the number one weapon in their arsenal has been to dredge up the intellectually bankrupt idea that Republicans are waging a “war on women.”
Gerald Seib reports for the Wall Street Journal:
The race for control of the Senate in this year’s election is big, expensive, important—and negative. And the most negative so far are those with the most to lose. A good gauge of the overall tenor of campaigns is the television advertising aired either by or on behalf of the candidates. Analyses of Senate ads over most of September by the Wesleyan Media Project show that negative ads are far outweighing positive ads, and airing at a higher rate than in recent elections. And Democratic groups, fighting to defend more Senate seats and keep control of the chamber, have been more negative than their Republican counterparts, that independent analysis shows.
The statistics are sad, but incredible. In early September 70.5 percent of all Democrat-affiliated ads were negative. Among outside groups, 91.4 percent of ads backing Democrats were negative. Of all negative ads, just under 40 percent were personal attacks against their Republican opponents. And although there are no statistics on the matter, it’s a safe bet that a solid plurality of that 40 percent were ads alleging a fictitious “war on women.”
Fortunately, voters are seeing through the muck and the grime of negative campaigns to see that the ads are more often a reflection of the candidate running them than they are of the candidate the ads are meant to target. This is becoming especially true in the Colorado Senate race where Sen. Mark Udall’s “war on women” allegation is not only not working, it’s working against him. The Hill’s Alexandra Jaffe reported in September:
Colorado Democrats are fretting that Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) “war on women” battle cry against Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is starting to sound like a broken record.
After a series of polls this past month have shown the race statistically tied or even with Gardner up, some Democrats are urging Udall to find a new refrain against his opponent, lest Republicans claim the seat in November.
. . . [Colorado pollster Floyd Ciruli] added it seemed as though Udall has been running a single-issue campaign for some time, and while “it is a litmus test for some people, it is not a major issue for everyone.”
Did Sen. Udall (or any Democrat candidate) listen? No. But how could they? Fictitious personal attacks are really their last hope in an election season where their party is weighed down by an unpopular president, disliked policies and a stagnating economy.
And yet the “war against women” ploy continues to backfire. Over the past week two prominent newspapers in Colorado have given their endorsement to Republican challenger Cory Gardner and both have cited Udall’s unnecessarily personal attacks.”
“Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives,” writes the Denver Post’s editorial board. “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.
The Colorado Springs Gazette was similarly displeased: “Maybe Udall finally gets it. Few believe the pretense of a Republican war on women. The message was at first a waste of money and time. Now, it has backfired.”
Udall’s transparent single-issue agenda has become so obnoxious that a debate moderator even dubbed him “Mark Uterus.”
Voters and even pundits are quickly growing tired of this ludicrous mischaracterization of Republican views, especially when so many candidates have supported expanded contraception access. Hopefully that will put an end to the clear fear-mongering that is going on among ideologically bereft candidates on the Left. Sadly, we wouldn’t count on it.