Friday, November 7, 2014

Did ex-Senator Udall's 'War On Women' Strategy Depress the Female Vote in Colorado?

Photo Courtesy of the NRSC

It's an interesting coincidence that female turnout, as a percentage share of the electorate, was the lowest nationwide in Colorado Tuesday night. Couldn't possibly have anything to do with the sharply negative ads in the state, largely directed at women, could it?

Nearly two years ago, Colorado's incumbent Democratic Senator was considered safe in a midterm election that would seemingly favor Republicans. Then came the backroom deal that propelled Cory Gardner to the nomination. Knowing that Gardner was their greatest political threat of the Colorado GOP bench, the Udall campaign began a focused effort on convincing Colorado women that the Republican nominee for Senate would eliminate their access to abortions and birth control. After the Obama/Biden campaign experienced some success with the so-called "war on women' tactic in 2012, Udall hoped to replicate their campaigns impressive performance among females by singing a similar tune.

This time, however, they were unsuccessful. Gardner has been declared the winner with 93% of precincts reporting.

Over time, Udall's single-issue focus on women's reproductive health drew criticism and ridicule from all political corners, most notably from local Colorado newspapers that historically bent Democratic. And indeed, Tuesday night's exit polling would indicate Udall's 'war on women' strategy failed. Though the Democrat did ultimately win the female vote, it was by a rather unimpressive 52-44%, especially when compared to Udall's seventeen point loss among Colorado males, or Beauprez's twelve point loss with women, or Buck's seventeen point loss with females in 2010.

But there appears to be another interesting side effect of the "war on women" overkill seen in the 2014 Colorado Senate race - women made up a lower proportion of the electorate as compared to men than in ANY other Governor or Senate contest that night, save only the Colorado Governor race.
Just 47% of Colorado voters identified as female, while 53% identified as male. For reference, the national exit poll taken Tuesday found women made up 51% of voters, with men at 49%. Even Alaska, where men outnumber women in the total population, found higher turnout among women in their Senate race (48%) than Colorado. Of the forty-one exit-polled contests on November 4th, women outnumbered men as a share of the electorate in thirty-two of them, or 78% of the time. Men outnumbered women in only four of them, or just 10% of the time. The five remaining contests split 50/50 between male and female voters.