Political Hay

Border Chaos Changes Election Year Politics

The ‘War on Women’ is all that Democrats have left.

By 7.17.14

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In a Gallup poll released Tuesday, the percentage of Americans who say that immigration is the nation’s most important problem reached 17 percent, the highest level in eight years and the second-highest ever recorded by that polling organization.

It’s easy to scoff at the fickleness of the American public, taking a long-term problem such as immigration (legal or otherwise) from rating as most important by 5 percent of the population to 17 percent of the population in just a few weeks, notwithstanding the images of young unaccompanied children flooding into Texas. After all, border security and immigration didn’t suddenly become three or four times as important as it was just a month ago. It’s just that the symptom has alerted people to the disease of a lawless situation encouraged by a lawless president and an ineffective immigration system.

But what has become massively more important in that short time frame is immigration as a political issue and how it may now favor Republicans — or at least not harm them.

Immigration, along with the closely-tied issue of race, were to be two the three legs of the stool upholding already flimsy Democratic electoral hopes in November’s elections.

But as Hispanic congressmen, an irate black woman in Houston (in a now-viral video), and furious black crowds in Chicago publicly assail President Obama for not doing his job and for treating illegal alien children with more care and concern than he shows for American children, claiming that the GOP is a party that “black and brown” people must fear and loathe is suddenly a challenge.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, doing his best impression of a modern Marie Antoinette, plays pool in Denver as even MSNBC hosts question the administration’s competence, bash the president for not visiting the border, and scoff at a Democrat’s claim the border is really secure. With this sorry spectacle of non-leadership, the effectiveness of Democratic appeals (particularly to Hispanic voters) that Republicans are the problem when it comes to immigration reform will run into the increasingly credible notion that the GOP has no reason to trust this president as an honest partner in negotiating such reform. Would you?

Whether or not Republicans actually want to tackle immigration reform is a real question, but recent events at our southern border make it all but irrelevant over the next several months heading into the 2014 midterms — much to the relief of many Republican candidates in swing districts or states.

The third leg of the stool of Democrats’ faux-issues — the last leg remaining under this most shaky of electoral campaign strategies — is the “War on Women.”

With no positive message that appeals to voters outside of the Progressive base, with a president whose unpopularity is an anchor on Democratic candidates across the country, liberals’ only chance to save Democratic control of the U.S. Senate (and perhaps of state legislatures as well) is to demonize Republicans with female voters.

It’s a strategy that has worked well for the left because conservatives have not developed a clear, concise, compelling antidote to the liberal venom; they have no rebuttal that appeals to single women and soccer moms.

It has been especially effective here in Colorado where Ken Buck (soon to be in Congress representing the 4th Congressional District) lost a winnable U.S. Senate race in 2010 by being cast as “too extreme” in political ads and by the left’s useful pawns in broadcast and print media. (Unfortunately, Buck — who has surely learned from the 2010 debacle — committed a few verbal gaffes that made that characterization all too easy to believe. Throw in Todd Akin two years later, and the voting public, or at least certain parts of it, see a disturbing trend.)

Nearly every Democrat in a competitive race for any office plays the “GOP hates women” card; in contests as close as those in purple districts in a purple state often are, an unrebutted claim, even if transparently false, can be — and has been — determining, including giving Democrats full control of Colorado’s state government despite there being slightly more registered Republicans than Democrats in the Centennial State. (A University of Chicago researcher found that Colorado has the second-most polarized state legislature in the country.)

Democratic Colorado Senator Mark Udall, a man who voted with President Obama’s wishes 99 percent of the time in 2013 (a fairly common occurrence among Democrats, some of whom even scored 100%) yet just refused to appear with the president at a Denver fundraiser for Udall is as desperate as an incumbent senator can be.

As well he should be, given his rating as “the most liberal of the candidates running in a competitive Senate race this year.” With no ability to talk about what he is for (Obamacare, tax hikes, the DREAM Act, cap-and-trade, blocking Keystone XL, etc.), Udall’s re-election campaign against challenger Cory Gardner (who is vacating the safely-Republican House seat that Ken Buck will win) is almost entirely negative — and almost entirely false.

A Udall ad released in April suggests that Rep. Gardner does not respect women and that while serving in the state senate he aimed to ban birth control in Colorado. The liberal-leaning Politifact website calls that claim “half-true,” though no objective person would say it is anything but dishonest.

Cory Gardner recently withdrew his support for “personhood” measures because he has come to believe that such a law might be used to restrict birth control (whereas his intention was to limit abortion). In an interview with the Denver Post, Gardner said, “The fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position. I’ve learned to listen. I don’t get everything right the first time.”

Even more outrageous than the April shenanigans — though not surprising since the ending of immigration as a wedge issue for Democrats leaves them with nowhere else to go — is a new ad in support of Udall by the Senate Majority PAC, a group funded in part by former NYC Mayor Michael “No Roads” Bloomberg and billionaire environmentalist radical Tom Steyer. The ad, called “Torn Apart,” resorts to the “too extreme” language that worked against Ken Buck, and claims that Gardner wanted to redefine rape to exclude “victims who were drugged or minors who were victims of statutory rape.”

This is as close as you can get to a blood libel in politics, and the Gardner campaign immediately called on the Udall campaign to “denounce the ad immediately.” Politifact says the claims are “mostly false” which, given the site’s persistent liberal bias, means “totally false.”

But Udall will denounce nothing because this is all he has. And, more importantly, because he believes —with good reason — that it works. An NBC/Marist poll released Tuesday, albeit with the misleading methodology of polling registered voters rather than likely voters, shows a double-digit lead for Udall among women. Among those polled, 70 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate who “supports restrictions on the use of contraception.”

And that’s why this campaign will be all contraception all the time, with sprinkles of rape thrown in for added spice. Not just in Colorado, but in every race across the country featuring a vulnerable (or aspirational) Democrat in a close race. As outrageous as the Democrats’ arguments are, Republicans need a better answer for female voters than they have yet offered.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, Sen. Udall and others are pushing a bill known as the “Not My Boss’s Business” Act, somehow missing the irony that they are the ones who made it a boss’s business by mandating within Obamacare that birth control coverage be paid for by employers. (For the single best short demolition of Democratic hyperbole on this issue, I recommend this letter to Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) from George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux.)

The intensity and frequency of the Democrats’ “War on Women” rhetoric will increase over coming months as the chaos on the Texas-Mexico border turns immigration from an expected positive campaign issue for Democrats into just the latest example of why this administration — and by extension Democrats who routinely support the president — must be restrained and removed.

As Gallup notes a dramatic jump in the number of Americans who see immigration and illegal aliens as the country’s most important problem, much of the increase comes among Republicans and older voters, namely those most likely to cast a ballot in November.

Gallup also points out that Republicans and Democrats are tied in the public perception of which party is likely to do a better job handling the most important problem (whatever that is for the particular person being asked). Historically, this suggests a strong showing for Republicans in the coming elections.

Although the percentage who believe the parties are equally (in)capable of dealing with the issue (or who had no opinion) reached a record high of 29 percent, an overall decline in belief in the competence of government should also benefit the GOP with Democrats perceived, perhaps more than at any point during my lifetime, as the party of unlimited government. How much things have changed since Bill Clinton uttered, even if insincerely, “We know big government does not have all the answers.… The era of big government is over.”

Democrats had precious little to campaign on coming into this election season. Immigration was to kick-start unmotivated Hispanic, independent, and depressed Democratic voters. The tsunami of Central American illegal immigrants, instigated by Barack Obama’s cynicism and incompetence, has turned in the issue into a potential positive for the GOP, and no worse than a neutral.

So all Mark Udall and friends have left is a cynical, disgraceful scorched-earth campaign which women should — but mostly won’t — react to by asking Democrats, “Do you really think I’m that stupid?” If they did ask the question, they certainly wouldn’t like the answer — not that Mark Udall would give an honest one. 

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About the Author
Ross Kaminsky is a self-employed trader and investor and is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. He is the host of The Ross Kaminsky Show on Denver's NewsRadio 850 KOA on Saturday mornings from 6 AM to 9 AM. You can reach Ross by e-mail at rossputin(at)rossputin(dot)com.