Guess which party is using social issues as a wedge this year

Still, Democratic campaigns are bombarding female voters with messages about social issues on the stump and in debates, television ads, targeted phone calls and direct mail. In California’s Senate race, Sen. Barbara Boxer says Republican Carly Fiorina’s opposition to abortion would turn women into criminals, a contention the Fiorina campaign calls “outlandish.” In Colorado, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet accuses his GOP opponent, Ken Buck, of wanting to ban common forms of birth control. Mr. Buck says he has changed his position…

“It’s hard to switch the topic when voters are so overwhelmingly concerned about the economy, but a lot of these races are going to be decided by a few (percentage) points or less,” said Tom Jenson, a Democratic pollster. “Getting female voters fired up about these issues where they do agree with Democrats is helping.”

Pollsters say abortion is a particularly effective issue. Unlike the economy, where positions are sometimes hard to distinguish, abortion can present a clear delineation between candidates. And, pollsters say, a candidate’s abortion position can serve as a signal as to whether he or she shares a voter’s values more generally.