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December 31, 2010 11:37 PM UTC

Top Stories of 2010 #2: The "Buyer's Remorse" Endgame

  • by: Colorado Pols

The first days of October were quite distressing for Democrats following the Colorado U.S. Senate race–polls released that week showed a growing lead for Republican nominee Ken Buck, and after seeing a couple of them in succession the press began coalescing around a "Buck pulling away" meme in daily reports. Despite all of the work done by Democrats and their allies to show how Buck had first taken a host of unpalatably extreme positions on a range of issues, then abandoned those positions with breakneck speed after the primary, it looked at the beginning of October as though the strategy to marginalize Buck along with Sharron Angle in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, and other "too extreme" Tea party-backed Senate candidates around the country, was breaking down.

One detail hidden beneath the headlines showing a growing lead for Buck would emerge as a game-changer, however, and would shatter the conventional wisdom governing this race at the beginning of October by Election Day. Even though polls of "likely voters" showed Buck with a commanding lead among Republicans, and male voters generally, a consistent gap was solidifying between those demographics where Buck was strong, and his relative lack of support among female voters–as well as slowly-ebbing support from independents. This gap had its origins in Buck's primary, and among other things a highly regrettable remark Buck had made about the electability of opponent Jane Norton's footwear.

But in October, a story broke that turned this gender support gap into a chasm.

Keenly aware of the soft spot in Buck's electability opened by his unfavorable perception by women, Colorado Democrats and their allies mercilessly hammered Buck for his support for Amendment 62, the birth control and abortion ban ballot measure. Video of Buck volunteering unbidden at a campaign event that he opposed abortion even in cases of rape or incest formed the basis of millions of dollars in television advertisements. Then in early October, the victim in an alleged case of date rape, a case which Buck had refused to prosecute in 2005 as Weld County DA, came forward and started talking–first to the online Colorado Independent, and then to the Denver newspaper's Allison Sherry.

The story of this alleged victim shocked the conscience of almost everyone who heard it. The Independent and Ms. Sherry reported on an audio recording, never before disclosed, of Buck's presumptuous grilling of the victim regarding her motives, bizarrely veering into speculation about an abortion as a reason for her to make a false accusation–all of this after the alleged perpetrator had been recorded by the Greeley Police Department admitting to the crime. At the time of Buck's refusal to prosecute the case, the victim went to the Greeley press, after which Buck dismissed her allegations to a reporter as a possible case of "buyer's remorse."

What became known as the "buyer's remorse rape case" stopped Buck's momentum dead in its tracks. Through a combination of unusually rapid pickup from local to national media, and a swift recognition by the campaign of Democrat Michael Bennet that an opportunity to end the race was really presenting itself, Buck was never again able to make an unscripted press appearance without being confronted by his actions and words. Moreover, Buck never gave a response to this story that came close to absolving him, even repeating the "buyer's remorse" line unrepentantly on national television. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of Buck's response is the sense that he never understood what the problem was.

On November 2nd, in a history-making rebuke that political scientists will study for years to come, the women voters of Colorado explained it to him. In fact, women voters can fairly be said to have been more identifiably decisive in this race than…well, do you have a better example? Ever?

The razor-thin margin of victory that Bennet enjoyed over Buck, driven by an exit-polled 17-point margin for Bennet among women, still required the massive field operation Bennet organized, and all of the other expense that went into this race. But there is absolutely no question that for all the unprecedented millions spent on the Senate race in Colorado, the opening Buck provided Democrats to irretrievably alienate him from women–and women so decisively rejecting Buck in response–is the principal reason why Bennet is now Colorado's elected junior Senator.


23 thoughts on “Top Stories of 2010 #2: The “Buyer’s Remorse” Endgame

  1. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of Buck’s response is the sense that he never understood what the problem was.

    The entire southern white male dominated Republican Party doesn’t understand what was wrong with what Buck did.  That’s why the Democrats (who have proven at least at a national level to be totally incompetent to run government) can hang in the game.

    Basically, Republicans hate women, hate the poor, hate blacks, hate Hispanics.  The country is already majority women.  I wonder what happens when the country is majority minority and if the Republicans stay in charge for very long, majority poor?

    1. If my very-Republican 80-something father is any indication of their mindset, Republicans don’t exactly hate all minorities, they just have no problem extrapolating from the bad deeds of one black (for an example) to “all those people are like that”.  They never seem to extrapolate like that with whites who commit heinous crimes though (or who abuse their political office).  My father can be extremely generous one-to-one with a minority person who is in need, and then turn around and say “send them all back” in the next minute.  Yes, maybe he needs meds, right?

        1. You know that a majority (all?) of the powerbrokers named in Schrader’s BluePrint are Jewish.

          Obscure, oblique, false, indecent.

          May you live in a world where the worst you ever experience is political character assassination.  May you be shunned, here, for your callous disregard for history’s true victims.

          1. It would be really nice if the GOPers of the world would stop equating anything they find offensive to what the Nazis did. Reality check; Nazis tortured children to death slowly in twisted, sadistic medical experiments that resulted in absolutely nothing of any scientifc value. Dem and R pols all use whatever oppprtunities, gaffes, etc. the other side provides them to score points. Every bit as horrific?  Only to those without a single iota of human decency. Let’s hope the New Year brings us absolutely nothing that GOPer could possibly want, respect or value.  

          1. For these guys, these exact same actions are fine and fair, so long as it’s Republicans doing this to Democrats. Turnabout is NOT fair play with them.

        2. Not surprising from the BasementWarrior.

          See: Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Dick Wad. et al.  Yeah, character assassination, like a black baby McCain?  You all pioneered the tactics of smear, all the Dems did was show the voters what Ken Buck said, in his own words, in his own clips.  Why is it the Dems fault that Ken Buck scares off women voters?  Play the victim card much?  Look in the freakin’ mirror, get that beam out of your own eye, then come back and help me with my splinter.  Jackass.

  2. Frank Lutz, republican pollster extraordinaire, was on KOA today with the hapless Bob Beauprez.  Lutz is the wordsmith which framed the debate for the repubs and helped them win.

    His take on Buck?  He said that Buck had the worst appearance on Meet the Press of any candidate in memory. He was ill at ease and ill prepared for the questions on gay rights, etc.  Lutz said that is when the polls started to turn toward Bennet.

    1. he knows his stuff. Dems need a Lutz of  their own. Enough lets-all-play-nice-and-the-voters-will-see-who-is-telling-the-truth-and-really-stands-with-them crap already. That should be the Dems New year Resolution: Get a couple of our own Luntzes and back ’em with our own billionaires’ money.

      1. Now here is a dilemma:  Lutz is coming to Denver in March and is recruiting for people to be in his focus groups.  He announced this on the Rosen show, hosted by the aforementioned hapless Beauprez.  Lutz urged listeners to go to  and sign up for the focus group.

        So my first thought was to post the info here and load up the focus groups with dems and progressives…EXCEPT Lutz is brilliant.  He doesn’t want to know what people think.  He wants to know what words peopler respond to so that he can frame his message so that people buy it.  So such a strategy would wind up helping the repubs if the messages were framed to influence dems and progressives in Colorado…

        Lutz said Colorado was critical…as goes Colorado so goes the nation.  Although, he also seemed to think that Beauprez was still a congressman.  Lutz said that the public feels that no one in the government is listening to them and that the public is very angry and doesn’t trust anyone EXCEPT talk radio, tea party and Fox news.  

          1. Welcome!    

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            1. I googled Word Doctor  and double checked the URL.  But, I was looking at the double ds to make sure I got those right and forgot the “the.”  Plus, the youngest member of our extended family – a beautiful 18 month old – was napping and thus unable to provide the usual technical support.

              Thanks again.

  3. There’s only one top story left for Pols to reveal. Let’s recap the top stories so far:

    10. Dan Maes sees U.N. bike conspiracy

    9. Bill Ritter declines to run

    8. Jane Norton declares war on a billion people

    7. GOP recruits bunch of criminals as candidates

    6. Cory Gardner unseats Betsy Markey

    5. Democrats keep majority in state Senate

    4. GOP abandons Maes, fractures

    3. Scott McInnis plagiarizes himself into oblivion

    2. Ken Buck’s high heel in mouth disease costs election

    There are two names that dominated discussion on Colorado Pols this year still missing from the ranking: Andrew Romanoff and Tom Tancredo. Any guesses which one’s story will top the list? I’m betting it will be something involving Romanoff, though to see the bizarre Tancredo campaign go without singular recognition would seem strange in this strange, strange year.

  4. The ability of Michael Bennet to raise money was a critical factor not touched upon very much.

    He was the best candidate in the field from the start.

    I do think that his exposure to Coloradoans impacted Michael. He heard and saw economic pain all over Colorado.

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