Gardner won anyway, the first Republican to win a top statewide race in Colorado in 12 years. Udall underperformed the Democratic governor by 90,000 votes. Why? Gardner didn’t win by running away from his pro-life position, but by highlighting how absurd Udall’s attacks were.
It wasn’t fun for Gardner. To be blasted as a misogynist and to be lied about is not fun. Many media outlets mocked him and repeated the Democrats’ silly attacks. The media tend to work against pro-lifers. Reporters who ask pro-lifers difficult questions, almost never ask tough questions of the other side, such as, “Why is it okay to abort viable babies?” or “Are you cool with sex-selective abortion?”
These attacks are frustrating and personally hurtful, and the media usually acts like they are legitimate. But that doesn’t mean they work politically, as the polls and the 2014 results show.
Being a politician means you fight back when you’re unfairly attacked. So many Republicans are out of practice fighting on abortion, because the party’s default reaction is to run from the issue. They run from the fight in part because the GOP consultant and donor classes don’t like talking about abortion — they’d rather push Keystone Pipeline votes and fight over capital gains rates.