Friday, October 17, 2014

The Economist: High, Tolerant and Republican?

The top reporters for the Economist don’t receive bylines, but Lauren Schuker Blum replaced Tom Nuttall, who is now writing the regular European commentary (Charlemagne) from Brussels.

She asks and attempts to answer the question that frames the 2014 Colorado election: How does a state that has behaved so liberally the last half decade appear to be treating its top Democrats so poorly in their re-election?

President Obama’s unpopularity after just winning the state substantially in 2012 is the top reason, along with Republican challenger Cory Gardner’s “Mona Lisa smile” and well-run campaign.

Incumbent Mark Udall, following the Democratic Party’s 2014 playback, has attempted to show his independence from Obama, but Republicans have been relentlessly arguing that Udall sides with the President “99 percent” of the time.

The Democratic attack that has become tiresome is that Gardner is an extremist due to his pro-life position.  The “war on women” ads are so repetitive and harsh that they not only seem to have lost affect, but are producing a backlash of criticism.

However, Udall’s biggest vulnerability may be – after a 16-year career in office (Colorado State House starting in 1996, four terms in the U.S. House) – it’s hard to identify his signature issue.

Critics say Mr. Udall’s negative campaign reflects his lack of accomplishments. He comes from an old political family: his father ran for president in 1976, and his cousin is a US senator from New Mexico. But “the problem is that Udall just hasn’t done a whole lot,” says Mr. Ciruli, the pollster. This is not fair. He is the best golfer in Congress. He is also a reliable eco-warrior, voted against the Patriot Act because of his belief in privacy and battled with the NSA over its spying on Americans. On the campaign trail he stresses his love of civil liberties and independence from Mr. Obama.

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