UPDATE: While the Cook Political Report quantified the number of pro-Udall ads about abortion, it was Colorado’s Queen of Quippery, Lynn Bartels, who first identified the trend with these ill-advised ads in a September Denver Post article:
“Half of the commercials attack Gardner on women’s issues, including a spot that sums up the sentiments both sides have echoed.”
The Cook Political Report released a “40 Interesting Facts about the 2014 Election” and one of the most interesting factoids included was about Colorado’s U.S. Senate race and the number of ads about reproductive organs. Even casual observers noticed that there seemed to be an unnatural focus by Democrats on, ahem, lady parts this election cycle, but Cook Political Report quantifies it. From the post:
47 percent of all Democratic general election spots in the Colorado Senate race focused on abortion (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG)
That’s an astounding number – nearly half. It’s especially insane when one considers that the last issue poll by Quinnipiac before the election showed that the issue of abortion was second to last in issues of importance among the Colorado electorate with just 11% identifying the issue as “most important”. Even more astounding is the fact that Colorado ranked third nationally with $47.4 million in TV ad spending in the U.S. Senate race, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Broken down even further, the Democrats spent $25 million on the U.S. Senate race here for 35,500 ads and Republicans spent $22.3 million for 31,800 ads. (Side note: Republicans may actually have gotten a better deal as they paid on average $701 per ad compared to Democrats $704 per ad – of course, this may be attributed to different ad mixes, etc.)
What these numbers mean is that Democrats spent potentially $11.8 million on 16,685 ads relating to abortion, an issue that just 11% of the population identified as a top issue.
What’s even more interesting is that the New York Times ran an article titled “A Closer Look at the Colorado Senate Race” that went through many “what ifs” and “how comes” around Udall’s loss (likely in response to the swell of media outlets calling Sen. Bennet an endangered Senator). Not once did the article mention the misalignment of resources described above – not even in the lessons learned section. In fact, searching the article for the word “abortion” netted zero results – the same with “birth control”.
The biggest issue for Udall was that his supporters claimed he’s far more than just Mark Uterus, yet none of that surfaced whatsoever in the 2014 election. Given the abject messaging failure from Team Udall, surely it would deserve at least a fleeting mention in an article about lessons learned. That is, it would if the lesson had been learned.