FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Political Strategy and Pro-Life Legislation
So, it’s no surprise that the moment there was conflict and concern over the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and the possibility it could damage the GOP’s image among the women that Boehner, et al. would pull the legislation and put forward a much safer and much smaller bill that is meant to appease the “base.” Ever-conscious of its image, the leaders of the GOP successfully meet all expectations conservatives had of them with regard to their cowardice in just a few short weeks.
The idea that abortion is a topic that creates Democratic seats by creating a “War on Women” atmosphere (or whatever ridiculous name you want to call it) is one, however, that has no actual evidence in its favor and is actually refuted by most observable evidence. The consultants and the leadership fear what would happen should it appear they are encroaching into the womb by way of legislation, and as a former pro-choice millennial, I can see where they are coming from.
However, 60% of the American public supports the legislation, which would effectively end the most gruesome of abortions in the U.S. and, furthermore, in one race in 2013, it actually was what kept an expected blowout from occurring. When Terry McAuliffe outspent and outcampaigned Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race, it ended up being separated by only a few percentage points. Why?
Evolving Strategies and the Middle Resolution PAC conducted experimental research that suggests an aggressive attack on McAuliffe for supporting ObamaCare was ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. An attack on McAuliffe’s business record possibly helped, but was anemic.
What moved the voters most was an attack on McAuliffe’s positions on abortion; a single phone message emphasizing McAuliffe’s support for unrestricted, late-term, and taxpayer-funded abortions shifted support a net 13 to 15 points away from McAuliffe and toward Cuccinelli. The cost per vote here was a remarkably cheap $0.50 per additional vote, and even less expensive still when targeting the most persuadable segment of the electorate.
A topic declared radioactive by nearly everyone, locked away in secure storage behind a blazing Hazmat warning by the Cuccinelli campaign, appears to have been a powerful weapon for the Republican ticket that could have substantially closed the gap, and possibly even won Cuccinelli the election.
It isn’t a matter of smart politics versus alienating the base. If it were about alienating the base, well… last night was sure as hell the best way they could actually do it. How many of those who turned and fled this bill proudly talk about how pro-life they are? I don’t know whether they are secretly pro-choice liberals masquerading as Republicans or if they are just paralyzed in fear at the idea of upsetting even one person. If it’s the former, as Ace of Spades said on Twitter last night, we can afford to bounce a few Congressmen every cycle.
Let’s start with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) 58%.