Colorado’s incumbent Democrat Senator and Governor have not had a good summer. Both are now down in the polls to their Republican challengers, Gardner and Beauprez. While Governor Hickenlooper once again fumbled the gun issue in a recent debate, Senator Udall decided to speak for the beheaded victims of ISIS, offending many Colorado voters, to whom Udall was forced to apologize.
Shortly after these events the polling models began to shift to likely voter models, and with that change former Congressman Bob Beauprez had his first poll showing him with a lead. While Rep. Cory Gardner was still trailing Sen. Udall, the next few weeks would change that as well.
Mark Udall had tried all summer to generate some momentum with the War on Women playbook, yet his numbers stayed around 45%. The Udall campaign has known they are in a real fight for a while now, but the attacks that came next, which dripped with desperation, were surprising, and very offensive.
Team Udall decided they would politicize the tragic floods Colorado experienced last year, by tying the flood response to the government shutdown. The backlash over Senator Udall’s ad was quick and came from sides that are not traditionally inclined to help Republicans. Some local outlets said the ad was a demonstration of everything wrong with politics.
This was a major misstep for the incumbent Senator.
Add these missteps together with the news from the NYT Poll that the Democrat advantage in the gender gap has essentially vanished, and it begins to become clear how Rep. Cory Gardner is now in the lead.
When asked “If the 2014 election for United States House of Representatives seats were being held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate in your district?” women favor Democrats over Republicans by one point only, 43 to 42 percent.
This is a huge swing in a short period of time: just one month earlier, women preferred Democrats by 51 percent to 37 percent in response to that question in a similar Wall Street Journal poll.
The Real Clear Politics (RCP) Average in the Colorado Senate Race has Udall up on Gardner .6% without todays latest release from PPP which shows Gardner up 2 points on Udall. The last three polls have all showed Gardner with the lead.
For Beauprez the RCP Average has him leading Governor Hickenlooper by .6% with the last five polls bouncing back and forth. The key in both races is that the trend is bad for the Democrat incumbent and either positive, or holding steady, for the Republican challenger.
Governor Hickenlooper entered the 2014 cycle with most believing he would probably win. Since then we have seen the Governor waffle on the death penalty, lie to the sheriffs and the people, and flail about in a debate that team Hickenlooper must thank Gaia was not televised.
As for Udall, he rode Obama’s coattails to the Senate and his departure could largely depend on his closeness to an unpopular President. Despite claims that the White House quivers in their collective boots upon seeing Senator Udall stride confidently into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mark Udall is a good friend and loyal vote for President Obama’s agenda. Udall’s attempt to distance himself from Obama in this way has been openly mocked for the last two weekends on the Sunday morning circuit.
The timing of these stumbles for Hickenlooper and Udall is vitally important. Due to the election laws passed in 2013, signed by Governor Hickenlooper, Colorado has an all mail ballot election, and those ballots go out in just a couple weeks. Now is the best time for Beauprez and Gardner to really catch their stride and show strength in the polls just before the ballots drop.
If voters snag their ballot out of the mailbox in the coming weeks and still have a similar, or better, impression of Beauprez and Gardner, then I suspect Colorado will have a Republican Governor and Senator when all the votes are counted.
The Colorado Democrats have tried and failed to make abortion an issue this cycle in Colorado. Gardner’s push for Over The Counter birth control has no doubt helped blunt the efforts by the abortion fanatics to define him as an extremist. Beauprez has largely just made sure not to speak stupidly, which is really all it takes to be pro-life and not sound like a moron.
Some of the gains made by the Republican candidates could also be attributed to the waning influence of the progressive machine in Colorado, which came to light after the gun control inspired recall elections, and the disastrous roll out of Obamacare, which inspired juvenile “Brosurance” ads that appeared to be self parody rather than the professional political agitprop we’ve all seen in previous cycles.
Both of these races are close, and I have no crystal ball to divine the end results. The Democrats will not by giving up any time soon, and they have a track record in Colorado that demands respect. That said, I do know which campaigns I would want to be working on and which ones would have me losing hair, sleep, and more than likely the election. Beauprez and Gardner have done well to neutralize abortion as an issue this cycle and if they continue to do so they will probably win.
Colorado voters are not single issue voters, and many of the young, single, women upon whom the Democrats rely see Gardner and Beauprez talking smartly about birth control and abortion, along with the broader issues that also effect our everyday lives.
Meanwhile the Democrats can’t stop fixating on their vaginas.