Election 2014

Democrats are Running on the Wrong Issues


credit: SenatorMarkUdall / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

In the Colorado Senate race, Democrat Mark Udall, the incumbent, has arguably pursued the "War on Women" strategy with more vigor than any other Democrat this year. He's run so many ads focused on the "women's issues" of contraception and abortion that he's been dubbed "Mark Uterus."

The strategy doesn't appear to be working very well. Although Udall leads by six points amongst likely women voters, who support him 45-39, Udall is down overall against his Republican opponent, Cory Gardner, who leads with 46 percent of likely voters overall, according to a Quinnipac poll released yesterday. With just 39 percent of likely voters saying they plan to support Udall, he's down by seven points. 

A new poll from the Associated Press helps explain why this strategy, versions of which are being run by Democratic candidates across the country, is falling flat: This year, most voters care more about economic issues than social issues. Via the AP:

Only 32 percent of likely voters called gay marriage an important issue, compared with 91 percent ranking the economy important, 78 percent with similar concerns about health care and 74 percent naming Ebola important. The issue that some Democrats have emphasized most of all—abortion rights—also has been a relatively low priority, with only 43 percent of likely voters in a September poll ranking it important.

…One domestic issue that remains a priority for Americans is health care. Only 3 in 10 say they support the overhaul passed in 2010, while nearly half (48 percent) oppose it.

Democrats are running on issues that many voters consider low priority. But they may not have had much choice. As a Gallup poll foundrecently, Democrats are winning on issues like contraception, but Republicans are now more trusted on higher priority issues like the economy and the budget deficit. As Gallup concluded, "it has become pretty clear that Republicans have a distinct and emerging issue advantage in the 2014 campaign."

Part of what's fascinating is that this is happening despite how thin the GOP agenda continues to be. Republicans have campaigned heavily against Obama this year, but have been reluctant to offer specifics about what they support. Democrats are running on the wrong issues; Republicans are running on no issues. Yet voters seem to prefer whatever it is the GOP stands for to what Democrats have already done and still have to offer.

But what this also suggests is the increasing weakness of the Democratic agenda as well. We have been hearing for years now that the GOP is out of ideas, and there is an awful lot of truth to that. But Democrats do not seem to have much of a grand to-do list either. And what they do have does not seem to be particularly motivating. As I've argued before, we've entered a post-policy moment for both parties, in which both sides have exhausted their agendas. Whatever comes next is going to be very interesting. 

NEXT: The City of South Miami Wants to Split Florida in Two

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  1. Well, naturally. Their entire platform and political philosophy is wrong. How could they do other than run on the wrong issues?

    1. What else do they have, other than identity politics and free shit?

      1. I simply refuse to get down to the media’s level and view politics as some sort of sport. What’s at stake is my freedom and my property. How a Democrat could win anything after the shit they’ve done at every level is beyond me. And the GOP is only marginally better.

        1. Agreed, except I would say the GOP is equally, but somewhat differently bad.

          1. At least the love of big government in the GOP seems to be limited to a couple of areas, not the core philosophy.

        2. ProLib, once you accept that both Teams are out to deprive you of your freedom and property, you will realize that politics is nothing more than a sport. A really boring sport. Worse than soccer even. And the only losers are the people outside the political class.

          1. Clearly, the prize for winning is too big. I suggest replacing the massive budget with a solid gold penis statue.

            1. That’s an odd way of endorsing Lindsey Graham for President.

              1. You’re right, they’d just fight over the statue. Just make it a bunch of smaller ones that the winners can take home and place on their mantels.

  2. Democrats are Running on the Wrong Issues

    And you’re finding this out NOW?

  3. Whatever comes next is going to be very interesting.

    Citation needed.

    1. Interesting in the way that getting torn limb from limb is going to be interesting.

      1. That would be interesting, but it’s more like 800 pages of regulations that no one reads, but five years later somehow prevents you from expanding your backyard deck.

      2. One can only hope the major parties will be torn asunder, but history indicates they will slightly retool themselves and come back just as strong as ever.

      3. Interesting in the sense of “may you live in interesting times” interesting.

    2. Whats coming next is the Dems going full commie, the Reps sticking their thumbs up their asses while telling libertarians to get bent and going full fascitst.


  4. Oh fuck, Suderman criticized the GOP agenda.

  5. Thomas Frank was right – there *is* a political party trying to distract the voters from economics by running on hot-button cultural issues!

    (disclaimer – economic and cultural issues tend to bleed into each other, but shh! you didn’t hear it from me!)

  6. I’m sick of Democrat ads touting so and so’s “Real Plan for Job Growth” and GOP ads touting “He will bring bi-partisan leadership to Washington.” This mealy-mouthed nothingness, and endless lying and
    half-truths, makes the political season a “throw a shoe at the tv” festival.



    2. Thank God for Netflix and its competitors. Ads are for chumps, especially this time of year.

      1. My TiVo means I never watch a commercial, ever. It’s heaven.

        1. If it weren’t for commercials, you’d have to pay for tv LIKE YOU DO IN ENGLAND!


          1. I cancelled my cable and just buy DVDs of the shows I want to see – it’s cheaper and I’m not subsidizing crap.

  7. A new poll from the Associated Press helps explain why this strategy, versions of which are being run by Democratic candidates across the country, is falling flat:

    I suspect it has less to do with the economy, and more to do with the notion that maybe, just maybe, attacking half the electorate as animals and barbarians isn’t such a great way to get their votes?

    1. The democrats are very concerned, and want to do something about black men who whistle at white women.

      1. Insert appropriate Lyndon Johnson quote here.

  8. It was only a matter of time before wedge issues got whittled down to just shim issues.

    1. Ayup. Pass me that whetstone, if you please.

      *sticks piece of straw in mouth and slowly rocks in chair*

    2. More like folded-piece-of-paper-under-the-table-leg issues.

  9. Whatever comes next is going to be very interesting.

    Oh, I dunno. HIT IT MOAR HARDER WITH MOAR MONAY isn’t particularly interesting, but that’s what’s coming next.

  10. I’m sure there’s some chin-stroking going on about how Udall’s 6 point lead among women is a “troubling gender gap” that shows the Republicans need to “do more for women’s issues”.

    Yet, the reciprocal 14 point advantage among men that Gardner has raises no eyebrows or issues whatsoever.

    1. Sure it doesn, it proves that the animals and rapists always vote Republican!

  11. l leads by six points amongst likely women voters, who support him 45-39

    Hmm, interesting to know that 39% of likely women voters don’t identify themselves as walking vaginas.

    1. ugh

  12. Public Service Announcement:

    This is my new handle.


    R C Dean f/k/a MegaloMonocle

    1. Too bad Auric Demonocles is taken.

    2. Or you could do your new name in German: Possenrei?erj?ger.

      1. Fluggaenkoecchicebolsen?


      2. Ok, how long before you guys start prancing around in leather shorts?

        1. Your anti-German biases have been noted and logged.

          1. As someone of German decent, I can say anything I want about Germans.

            Like I do about the British. I get a free pass. Like Chris Rock gets a free pass to make fun of black folks.

    3. Is your new handle in response to this?

      Scary clown’ craze hits Spanish city

      1. The H & R story on clowns being outlawed for Halloween in France had a mention that there is also a counter-clown militia going after the clowns with clubs and brass knuckles.

        So, “Clown Hunter” it is.

        1. Would be a cool video game.

          1. I believe that was a mission in GTA V. The hippie guy gives you something and you start imagining clowns attacking you from everywhere.

  13. These are not the “wrong” issues so much as the only issues they have. What else are the Democrats going to run on? The success of their policies. Since 2000, the Democrats have run on two things; not being Republicans and on various culture war issues. That is it.

    The Republicans are not in charge right now. So they can’t run on the first thing. So all they have left is the culture war. The entire 2012 election was about Democrats convincing people to vote for them as a way to single the world that you were tolerant and on the right side of the culture war. It is unsurprising that they are trying to do the same thing again. The only surprising thing is that it seems to for once not be working.

  14. Whatever comes next is going to be very interesting.

    You are an optimist. That is a nice outlook to have. My cynical prediction? Democrats lose big. Republicans retreat in fear because the media is mean to them, thereby accomplishing nothing. We go farther in debt. War in the ME drag on and on and on.

    I hope I am wrong.

    1. I shan’t bet against that prediction.

    2. Considering that movie has been running on a loop for about 40 years now, your prediction is hard to argue with.

    3. I hope you’re right.

      My prediction is that Democrats will lose big, and Republicans will take that as a mandate to run rampant with right-to-life, traditional marriage, secure borders, and double down on war-on-drugs. And so forth.

  15. Democrat Mark Udall, the incumbent, has arguably pursued the “War on Women” strategy with more vigor than any other Democrat this year. He’s run so many ads focused on the “women’s issues” of contraception and abortion that he’s been dubbed “Mark Uterus.”

    And he keeps shooting that lone arrow in his quiver, no matter how worn and broken.

    91 percent ranking the economy important

    I guess the right to kill a human baby is just not as important an issue to fight for as being able to earn a living freely. Imagine that…

  16. As a Gallup poll foundrecently,[sic] Democrats are winning on issues like contraception[…]

    Which is something that tells you that a few million persons’ perception of reality is either twisted or blocked by a contemptuous disregard for logic and reason. If there is ONE thing that is easy to get in the U.S. is contraception, but somehow the Demo-rats have been able to bamboozle the sheeple to confuse contraception with abortion, which are NOT the same thing.

  17. The War on Women did NOT work in 2012. Obama did not win on the backs of women voters. It was minorities turning out and Republicans not turning out. The Dems and their media allies deluded themselves into believing it was a winning move-even some here are convinced. That was singularly damaging.

    1. That is all true. But, it did work to the extent that it helped get his white prog base out. Now maybe they would have come out anyway. Probably so. But no question it appealed to a certain group of his supporters.

    2. Not sure about that. Obama won women voters 56 to 44% in ’12.

      1. Is that substantially better than in 2008? What about in absolute totals?

        1. Women overall voted 56 to 43 percent for Obama; men voted 49 to 48 percent for him.


          So, his support remained steady.

    3. There’s a lot of different ways to attribute the margin of victory.

      Close to the top of my list is illegal votes, though.

      1. There is no solid evidence of that.

        1. To the Democrats credit, they’ve had a long time to grease the wheels of their election apparatus. I wouldn’t expect any hard evidence until someone gets fed up and blows the whistle. Or the media turns on them.

  18. He’s run so many ads focused on the “women’s issues” of contraception and abortion that he’s been dubbed “Mark Uterus”

    It’s so bad that those annoying ads actually swayed me to vote for Gardner. Simply as my own personal “fuck you” to Mark Uterus.

    The most obnoxious one is a radio ad that started airing the last few days in which a woman is talking to her boyfriend in dismay about all the stores being sold out of condoms and her boyfriend tells her “Cory Gardner outlawed birth control, so now it’s all on us guys…” and then continuing with a screed about how Gardner also (single handedly) cut pell grants and worst of all *gas* “denies science” because he doesn’t believe in AGW. Really? They expect us to believe that BC is literally illegal in CO? How stupid do they think women are?

    Although it also helps that on at least some issues I care about Gardner isn’t too bad. He voted for Amash’s ammendment to defund the NSA for example. Udall never said a word against the NSA until after the Snowden leaks despite sitting on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which means he was one of the one’s who was briefed on the program, but kept his mouth shut until it became politically popular to speak out. IOW, he’s a shit head.

    1. Warner has one in Virginia that shows a women saying his opponent plans to overturn Roe v. Wade and that is enough for her. “No way how”.

      I get it that it is pretty difficult to over estimate people’s stupidity, but this is ridiculous. I honestly can’t understand how they could think ads that idiotic and crude could work. I get it that they are trying to run on the issues. It is the only thing they have. It is just that they are doing it in such an amazingly idiotic way.

      1. It’s amazing that people keep falling for that. Abortion is still legal despite the several times the GOP has had total control of the federal government. For example.

        1. And the government gets bigger no matter who is in office. The Republicans owned Congress, the White House and a majority of the Supreme Court from 02 to 06 and the only thing that happened was a war that supported by a large minority of Democrats. Oh and they passed NDLB and the Medicare drug benefit and increased spending a bunch.

          And yet, people are still convinced the Republicans controlling everything is going to return us to the world of 1920.

          I think it is mostly that a lot of people want to vote in a way that makes them feel like they are looking out for the little guy. So it is not so much that they believe that bullshit. It is that the bullshit convinces them that voting Dem is how one looks out for the less fortunate. It is the only way I can explain it.

          1. We obviously need a sea change if we’re going to see anything resembling small government, individual liberty, and free markets.

            1. Is “Sea Change” dog-whistle for “revolution”?

      2. I get it that it is pretty difficult to over estimate people’s stupidity

        But is it really stupidity? You are correct to point out that Republicans may not be able to overturn RvW, but given the opportunity a substantial number of them would ban all abortions in a heartbeat.

        Just like banning guns isn’t possible right now, but a lot of Democrats salivate whenever that bell rings.

  19. Shhhhhhhhhh. There is a well known military axiom: never interrupt the enemy whilst he is making a mistake.

  20. ” We have been hearing for years now that the GOP is out of ideas, and there is an awful lot of truth to that”.
    This is utter nonsense!! Libertarians are er.. well. Libertarians. Republicans and conservatives are Republican and Conservative – we believe what we believe. Our solutions are time tested economically, and should always fall with in the parameters of our belief in the constitution. Our politicians blur the lines now and again for sure.
    However, the democratic party has run off into the left side of the progressive socialist ditch in the last 30 years. NONE of their ideas are new in the least. Circa 1854 from Karl’s pen to their puny little brains. Everything they do is poison to any society.
    What to do when “NEW” ideas are not what is needed. The author is showing MSM consensus thinking. the GOP wants to shoot blacks if possible, and hate the poor too – right? Jeeezus!!

  21. The left have nothing left! People are tired of their lies. Soon they will start to burn the cities.

  22. They can’t run on any other issues. It’s obvious to the dimmest of dimbulbs that policies based on the concept of “only benefits and no costs” are ridiculous, and yet any one who actually talks about tradeoffs (like, say, libertarians) get trounced. It’s much easier to say “that side sucks” than it is to put out a policy idea that will of course have a downside.

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