The hollow and silly “War on Women” narrative may never truly disappear. Democrats will need to marshal grievance among young and single women like never before if Hillary Clinton becomes the party’s standard-bearer in 2016. But the 2014 elections have dealt this vacuous yarn a blow from which it may never recover.
Ed Morrissey chronicled the collapse of the fabled “War” in a must-read column for The Fiscal Times:
This is not a case of just poor turnout but of actual shift in support — or at the very least an erosion of loyalty in a very short period of time. Other polls by the Associated Press and Pew Research also show dramatic erosion for Democrats among single women since 2012, even while seeing somewhat larger gaps.
What happened? For one thing, Republican candidates had better message discipline in 2014, depriving Democrats of opportunities for their demagoguery.
The incessant harping on contraception may have finally repelled women who have other concerns, such as the economy and national security, just like the millennials. But perhaps the desperation of Democrats to play this card with the same effectiveness as two years ago finally opened their eyes to the paternalistic attitude that Democrats took in positioning themselves as protectors, which implies that women can’t act on their own behalf.
He observed that Ground Zero in the counteroffensive in the “War on Women” came this year in Colorado where Senator-elect Cory Gardner defeated incumbent Mark Udall after the Democrat spent virtually the entirety of his campaign insisting that Gardner was an extremist on women’s issues without substantial evidence to back this charge up.
This intellectual cul-de-sac culminated in NARAL ill-advisedly fielding an ad in which the group envisioned a dystopian future where Gardner had somehow outlawed all forms of contraception including condoms. The voters deserved more credit, and they earned it on Tuesday night when they voted out their one-note Democratic senator.
What’s more, Udall did not even win women by overwhelming margins. A traditionally Democratic-leaning Demographic, the incumbent only secured the votes of 52 percent of women voters. Gardner won 47 percent of Centennial State women.
But the greatest defeat in the “War on Women” on Tuesday night came in California. There, the prototypical victim of Republicans’ supposed assaults on women’s health, the very face of Republican antipathy toward reproductive rights, Sandra Fluke, lost her bid for office.
Fluke lost to fellow Democrat Ben Allen, a Santa Monica-Malibu school board member, by over 21 points. As The Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal reported last month, real estate mogul Bill Bloomfield poured $1.3 million into independent expenditures backing Allen’s campaign, an enormous amount for a state Senate race. Both Fluke and Allen raised over $1 million for their respective campaigns. [Emphasis added]
The “War on Women” is not going away in 2016, but Democrats will be far more cautious when they invoke its themes. 2014 showed that it simply is no longer that effective a political tactic.