A Quinnipiac poll released this week suggests that if the Colorado Republican Party wishes to retake the Governor’s Mansion in 2014, it must first find a way to attract women voters and must figure it out in a hurry.
Polls in April of an election year are rarely good for predicting direct accuracy of an election held in November. However, they can point to important problems for candidates and in this case, political parties.
Each of the GOP candidates for governor faces at least a 20 point chasm in the Quinnipiac poll among women voters. While this comes in a poll in April, a twenty point difference is a very real problem.
In 2010, Ken Buck lost a race for the U.S. Senate by a very close margin. But the margin he lost when it came to women voters was large. If he had kept the race among women voters even at least a little bit competitive, Michael Bennet would not be a U.S. Senator right now.
There are a variety of troubling issues for Republican gubernatorial candidates when they examine these numbers, but I think among the most troubling is that none of these candidates have been the object of a major ultra-conservative social issue campaign, yet.
Ken Buck was blistered throughout the 2010 election season with ads asserting he was too extreme for women and he didn’t do himself for any favors with his own comments.
But none of the GOP candidates running for governor have even become a target yet, and they are already 20 points behind. With all four in the middle of a competitive primary, there will plenty of opportunities for each of them to potentially look very conservative, especially on social issues.
So some would ask at this point, okay so how does the GOP solve this problem?
Well, if I had that answer, do you think I’d honestly post it in a public blog? I could sell the concept for millions!
My point is this, the Colorado Republican Party is facing the most optimistic year since 2002 to take a major statewide seat. Both John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall are incumbents and will be difficult to defeat, but they are likely as vulnerable as they are going to be. If Republicans can’t make progress this year, they may stay in the wilderness for some time.
I know I don’t have the answer to the perplexing gender voter problem that is facing the GOP right now, but if it hopes to not lose yet another major statewide race, it must focus on this issue.
This goes beyond social issues since women voters vote on as many diverse issues as any other group. But a 20 point spread might as well be the Grand Canyon. Attempting to overcome that with other groups of voters is a fool’s errand.
The only thing to wait for now is to see how GOP candidates respond. The response will be a key factor in how much success they will find in November.
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About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.