Written by Amanda Marcotte for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.
Extreme anti-choice views don’t do well politically. As Election Day comes ever-closer, and Democrats are looking like they’re going to win elections they would have easily lost if they weren’t going up against Tea Party candidates instead of mainstream Republicans, the narratives are shaping up about why the Tea Party failed to win over the voting public. A lot of it will be undoubtedly true: Tea Party candidates have expressed extremist positions on social programs, the Civil Rights Act, the separation of church and state, and, most comically, masturbation. But what is getting very little coverage is how extreme anti-choice positions are likely hurting many of these candidates in the polls. But it’s quite likely that many of these candidates have views on reproductive rights that are too much for the public to stomach.
The mainstream media may not acknowledge that extreme anti-choice views can move voters to the polls to vote against someone, but the Democratic Party and pro-choice organizations do. In many states where the Republican is a Tea Party favorite and an anti-choice extremist, the Democratic candidate and allies have been running ads hitting the candidate for their positions. Sharron Angle, Carl Paladino, and Ken Buck have all faced TV ads highlighting their opposition to abortion rights even in the case of rape or incest. Christine O’Donnell has been the object of national attention for her prior career as a crusader against all non-marital sex, including masturbation.
And it seems to be hurting them. Ken Buck started out with a strong lead over Michael Bennet in the race for Colorado Senator, but now it’s neck-and-neck, in no small part because Buck’s popularity has declined so much more with female voters. Granted, Buck’s history of lack of sympathy for rape victims and “jokes” implying women are unfit to hold office aren’t doing him any favors. Still, it just adds to the sense that his objections to reproductive rights might be part of a larger pattern. You see a similar situation with other Tea Party candidates that hold extreme anti-choice positions. Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, and Christine O’Donnell also started off this race in a position where it seemed certain the Republican would win. But then more and more information about their extreme views came out—including strong positions against the right to abortion—and the races are turning into squeakers. (Or blow-out losses, in O’Donnell’s case.)
The lesson seems to be that what can win you a Republican primary in this environment can kill you in a general election, and that includes strong opposition to reproductive rights. Ken Buck is an instructive example on many levels. Read more