“Today’s Republican Candidates Are All Ken Buck Now”

In a column for the Washington Post yesterday, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow takes note of some lessons that emerged from the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Colorado–something we’ve talked about repeatedly as GOP presidential candidates like Mitt Romney likewise stumble:

In Colorado’s U.S. Senate election in 2010, the Republican candidate, Ken Buck, endorsed the “personhood” initiative during the primary. He later backed off that position, but Democrat Michael Bennet hammered Buck for it throughout the campaign. As the rest of the political map turned deep red that year, Buck lost – and lost the vote of Colorado women by a whopping 17 points.

Undeterred, the “personhood” folks tried again, getting their measure on the ballot in Mississippi last year. There were national predictions that any antiabortion ballot measure could pass in Mississippi, but it failed there, too, and by double digits. After a grass-roots campaign that included a “Save the Pill!” rally and billboards saying the measure would make “birth control a lethal weapon,” Mississippians voted it down by 16 points.

After Mississippi rejected “personhood” and its threat to contraception, after Colorado rejected it twice, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul attended (Paul by satellite) a Personhood USA candidates forum in South Carolina. All signed a pledge to pursue “personhood” at the federal level. Mitt Romney did not attend the event, but when asked on Fox News before the Mississippi vote last year whether he would have supported such a measure as Massachusetts governor, he replied, “Absolutely.”

This is critical context for understanding the national media scrum over health insurance and contraception. Taken together – Republicans’ condemnation that birth control be a required benefit of health insurance, their insistence that Planned Parenthood lose all federal funding, their threat to cut federal Title X support for birth control and their support for “personhood” measures that threaten the legality of hormonal birth control – today’s Republican candidates are all Ken Buck now. [Pols emphasis]

It can’t be spun to us, because we were there. In September of 2010, two crucial themes emerged that would go on to decide one of the closest U.S. Senate races in the country–a significant erosion of support for GOP candidate Ken Buck among women voters, and polling models weighted toward flawed assumptions about who was “likely” to vote in the “Tea Party”-driven 2010 elections. Those flawed assumptions led to a belief at the end of September by many that Buck was “pulling away,” when in fact Buck was about to lose the election.

An election Buck wasn’t supposed to lose. A stunning exception to the “Republican wave.”

So why did it happen?

In the end, the presence of Amendment 62, a radical abortion ban, on the statewide Colorado ballot strongly motivated pro-choice liberals and independents to get out and vote–in a year otherwise characterized by conservative momentum. In Ken Buck’s Senate race, his support for Amendment 62, even after being backpedaled, was a major component of his defeat by over 17 points among women voters. Due to his initial embrace of “personhood,” later retracted, and bad press he took over actions as district attorney in an alleged rape case, Buck fundamentally alienated women voters. And that loss by 17 points among women is the single most decisive factor in a Senate race that Buck lost by fewer than thirty thousand votes overall.

So folks, the next time we write about Romney’s latest “personhood” panderings as he campaigns against Rick Santorum who adores “personhood,” and we opine that this could potentially be a very bad thing for either of them actually becoming President, please don’t answer us with a bunch of dismissive crap about how the election will be “all about jobs.”

Because of course it will be about jobs, but it will also be about this.

49 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    When he said homosexuality was akin to alcoholism in that last debate.

    With that said, this issue was what got it to a 50/50 race. Without this Buck would have had a strong win.

    I think this is why the Republican party has chosen to not focus on social issues this election. Not because jobs are more important. But because their main social issues are now giant losers.

    • Pita says:

      I think this is why the Republican party has chosen to not focus on social issues this election. Not because jobs are more important. But because their main social issues are now giant losers.

      Planned Parenthood

      Contraception

      Gay rights

      Did you listen to any of the CPAC speeches?  I muddled through a few and they weren’t talking the economy or jobs.  No siree, the economy is improving and they were all over the social issues to the obvious delight of the members.  About the only thing that came out of it was an enternal debate – do we nominate the most electable or do we go with one of our own.  In the end they were pragmatic and went with Romney over Saint Santorum.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        Yes.  With the economy improving and the GOP candidate circus continuing, and continually nasty, GOP electoral consultants realize the need to find a new ‘issue’ to whip up fervor.

        How to paint the president as fundamentally hostile to America…you know ‘the other’ to turn out the Tea Partiers in spite of their hatred of the ‘Frontrunner’ ™?  

        Its never easy to predict the tinfoil hat vote, so the birth certificate thing will be mostly out (with a few emails forwarded around here and there, of course, and the occasional dog whistle). So the question is: “What can we drum up that gets at something basic to American value system… swing votes, and vulnerable Democratic constituencies…ones we cannot win as the shameless defenders of the 1%?”

        The whole birth control ‘controversy’ is a case in point.  (Calendar check…2012.  OK, what are we discussing again…?)  

        Thus, he is not only a European Socialist (who probably loves all the roundabouts in DC!) but he hates the pre-born and religion!  (Well, approved religions.  We all know he loves other religions–the bad ones).  He’s either Muslim or a crypto-Marxist secular humanist, but in either case…not really one of us.  

        The whole tactic is to raise doubt after doubt about Obama’s legitimacy, to be president, as a real American, as a man of faith…anything and everything.  Get use to it, for 9 more months.  

      • DavidThi808 says:

         But in the general I’m betting they say let’s focus on the economy and leave social issues to the individual. And then a wink wink to their base.

        • Aristotle says:

          … you didn’t phrase your original comment in the form of a prediction. You phrased it in the form of a comment on what’s current.

          I’ll throw this out there for anyone to answer – has R-money been talking much about social issues at all? I honestly have not paid close attention to his stump speeches or debates, and only recall vague promises to “get this country back on track” (as if the GOP wants that).

          • Aristotle says:

            I’m sure that he’s a socially conservative as they come, but I was wondering if he was actively campaigning on that.

            • Pita says:

              Probably after his 3 state loss to St.San last week.  Google Romney@CPAC for starters.  I think he backed Koman Foundation against Planned Parenthood earlier. Frankly, I’m quickly getting into burnout on the R-primary/caucus circus and I’m increasing my time following the leg and local and state races.

          • DavidThi808 says:

            Yes they all have to pander to the nut cases to win the primary. (Or in the case of Santorum, Bachmann, etc believe it.) But historically in the general the Republican candidate continues to run on social issues.mthey dial it back a bit but do bring them up regularly.

            I think it’s time they are not going to want social issues brought up at all in the general.

            • DaftPunk says:

              Everyone on the D side (candidate, 527’s and SuperPACs) will be serving up an endless stream of negative ads about how they’ve assaulted women’s healthcare.  The candidates themselves are writing the ads for them.

              You don’t think this will come up at the debates?  You don’t think Dems will force them to talk about it?

    • harrydoby says:

      I agree with Pita.  

      The GOP candidates are falling all over themselves to bring extreme positions on social issues to the forefront of the campaign.

      Losing the female vote by a stunning 17% margin absolutely dominated as the reason for Buck’s defeat.

      As I just said on another thread, the GOP is “Bucking” themselves over in this way.

      Fine — that just gives independents and moderate Republicans all the more reason to stay with or come over to supporting Obama and hopefully many state and local Democratic candidates this year.

    • sxp151 says:

      The only thing I remember anyone talking about in the last week or two of that election was the rape case, in addition to his extreme views on the rape exception for abortion. He quite suddenly lost a lot of support from women.

      Maybe that’s when he lost YOU, but it had almost no effect on the race by itself.

      I think we should start looking into channeling your myopia into a power source, since it seems unlimited and eternal. Too cheap to meter, as they say.

      • RedGreen says:

        It did have an effect, but it wasn’t the one David suggests. That was the point when even the most generous observers had to acknowledge that Buck’s campaign had run off the rails and could possibly buck national trends.

        It didn’t sway many votes by itself (anyone offended by that remark was long gone from the Buck camp), but it made it clear that a lot of votes probably weren’t going where they were “supposed” to.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          We’ll never know for sure but it could well be that the majority had gone to Bennet and this locked that decision down.

          I think the other item that locked it down was when Senator Bennet asked Ken Buck what would the punishment be for a woman who got an abortion.

          • RedGreen says:

            Some people who are discussing this aren’t just wildly guessing what happened. There was daily tracking on this race. It was, after all, the closest Senate race in the country and had the most outside money spent on it — the level of scrutiny was high, and I’m not talking about bloggers examining their guts about what was really going on.

            If I was unclear above, I apologize. The Meet the Press comment by Buck didn’t “lock down” anything. What it did was establish a turning point for pundits and observers to acknowledge that Buck’s campaign was a train wreck, that he was squandering a chance to ride the Republican wave that was sweeping away Democrats nearly everywhere else in the country.  

            • DavidThi808 says:

              Or was he already toast and that merely made it clear to the media?

              Maybe I was letting what the media said color my view. But that was when I think Bennet had it won for sure. Up to then I thought it was leaning Bennet but could end up either way.

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            They closed the gap in the final week by turning out the vote.  Everyone assumes that Buck lost it and Bennet did nothing to get the win.  Bennet was the one of all the national races who used social issues to go after the pompous Republican and destroy the myth that being anti-abortion was an automatic win.  Poll after poll shows that the public even in Mississippi doesn’t favor draconian anti-women policies.  Republicans are falling all over themselves reaffirming something that doesn’t sit well with the masses.  It is an easy vulnerability to exploit.

    • BlueCat says:

      Agree that Buck’s problem with women was key. The numbers speak for themselves. Personhood is great for riling the base but it’s a loser for general elections.  

      The anti-choice, anti-birth control wing is shrinking and desperate to get personhood passed somewhere, anywhere, to get it to the Supremes.  Mississippi proved that they’re fighting a losing battle but the GOP has backed itself into a corner where candidates have to raise their hands in support of it, in support of denying climate change science, the science of evolution and pretty much anything that doesn’t predate the mid 20th century, in order to win a primary.  

      The right has completely abdicated any serious role in the discussion of jobs in favor of re-fighting decades old culture war battles that demographics decree will increasingly be losers for them.

      Personhood brought out women in droves to vote no in a state like Mississippi. It doesn’t get worse for the social conservative extremists than that. There is probably no state friendlier to them.  Women forced Komen to cave. Women refusing to vote for candidates who are the only ones who can win GOP primaries are the GOP’s biggest problem, not comparing gays to alcoholics. Not that stuff like that helps much now and won’t hurt more going forward in the 21st century.  

      Women, unlike any racial, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation minority aren’t a minority. Lose most women, you’re going to have a very hard time winning elections. Especially on issues where women are aligned with growing numbers of young and minority voters.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        Yes honking off female voters is a really bad idea and loses you a lot of votes. But I think it’s larger than that in that the GOP is now on the losing side of pretty much every social issue in a general election.

        This was how they won elections in the past, by using coded phrases for denigrating women, minorities, gays, etc. and that they were the God fearing, America supporting party.

        They haven’t lost the main item in their playbook, they’ve lost the entire book. And that will leave them scrambling.

        After saying “jobs, jobs, jobs” in the general election campaign, what do they say next? They have nothing.

    • nancycronk says:

      Buck stepped up and did exactly what we wanted him to do — showed what a misogynist he really was. Buck’s most fatal flaw — the sexist high heels remark about Norton.

      Proud to have lead the blogger brigade exposing Ken Buck’s misogyny.  🙂

  2. Lurker19 says:

    that women vote in slightly higher numbers than men.

    I remember when good ol’ Beej was chortling about Nate giving Buck a 65% chance of winning in the run up to the 2010 election.

    Then Nate said that Buck only had a couple of “insignificant gaffes” that shouldn’t have torpedoed his campaign.  

    To a lot of women equating date rape with buyer’s remorse is not an insignificant gaffe.

  3. Half Glass Full says:

    I’m not saying it SHOULD be an issue. It happened nearly 20 years ago. But his terrible handling of it – not apologizing and saying he was a fool but knows better now, but instead ridiculously claiming that the dog liked riding up there – will cost him votes. He just comes across as terribly unfeeling.

    • nancycronk says:

      just like Gingrich’s history of cheating on his wives should be an issue. Character is everything. If a man treats women, children and animals badly, they don’t deserve any job, let alone the most important job in the nation (and possibly the world). On this point, women from the left and from the right agree.  

    • BlueCat says:

      are not to be trusted.  Period.  There’s something seriously wrong with them, something of great value that’s just missing in them on a very basic level. In Romney’s case, his curious inability to connect with people in an authentic or empathetic way should come as no surprise considering his family pet’s terror simply didn’t register with him.  Just hose the terror induced diarrhea off and go on your merry way.

      He’s not apologetic because he honestly can’t understand what the fuss is about, just as he can’t understand that talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars as if it was just pocket change is offensive to struggling, hard working people or that life might not be so peachy for the very poor, even with enough of a safety net to keep them from actually starving in the streets. It’s more than just a tin ear and an unfortunately robotic manner.  It’s who he really is. There just isn’t much there there.  

      • Half Glass Full says:

        Thanks for that response.

        I keep thinking maybe I’m being silly or emotional in this Seamus matter troubling me. But I see your (well expressed!) point, BlueCat.

        The other thing that troubles me is that it’s so damn obvious he’s lying about it. He keeps saying the dog loved it, and even crawled up there on his own. Well, I defy anyone to explain how an Irish Setter climbs up on top of a station wagon and then gets into a crate on his own. Just won’t happen.

        I will bet dollars to donuts that the reason Seamus didn’t ride inside in the first place was that maybe he had an incontinence problem and Romney didn’t want to deal with it. So let’s put the shitty dog on top.

        And it’s also obvious that when it came time to wash off the diarrhea, Seamus just stayed in the box while Romney sprayed him with a hose. There ain’t no way anyone is going to take a shit-covered Irish Setter out of a roof-mounted box and then, after washing him off, somehow get him to go back in on his own accord! Ain’t gonna happen!

        It’s been interesting to hear the new reports that Seamus actually ran away, never to be seen again, when the family reached Canada, and that all these stories about Seamus living out his golden years blissfully with another family member may be outright lies.

        If that’s true, the shit will really hit the fan: The issue becomes 100% honesty and integrity. The cover-up is always worse than the crime.

        • nancycronk says:

          I never heard that. I don’t have any problem believing they took the dog out, washed him and the crate, and put him back. Either way, it is still cruel to have a dog riding on top of a car for 1200 miles. What time of year was it? Either summer or winter could mean very high or very low temperatures. What Romney did was animal cruelty and he should have been arrested for it, and not allowed to have another animal… ever.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      He did something that was wrong and not necessary. In 1964 our family was on a cross country move. We had parents, 6 kids, a dog with a new litter and a cat or 2 in a Rambler station wagon. No one rode on top. Luggage was on top.

      • Half Glass Full says:

        I remember crowding just two parents and two kids into an un-airconditioned Chevy Nova with clear plastic-covered seats (unbearably hot in the sun) and jammed to the gills with camping gear. My brother and I rode on top of unrolled sleeping bags in the back seat. Then my brother vomited all over all our sleeping bags – in Mojave Desert heat.

        Ah yes, fun times …

      • nancycronk says:

        Everywhere we went, all eleven of us (2 parents, nine kids), and usually a few friends, piled in two cars. It was before people wore seatbelts much. The babies were often on our laps. We never would have dreamed of putting the dog on the roof. Peaches rode inside.

  4. ArapaGOP says:

    Colorado Pols is going to MAKE the election about abortion if they have to talk about it EVERY DAMN DAY!

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