on October 21, 2014 by in Golden News, Comments Off on Udall looking to make late-game push

Udall looking to make late-game push

Right now, there are a few things for Mark Udall to worry about.

Recent public polling has indicated a coalescing of majority support for the Democratic senator’s challenger to his re-election bid, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner.

Then there’s the mocking Udall has received for his perceived over-emphasis of women’s issues this campaign, having been dubbed “Mark Uterus” along the way.

And, aside from battling Gardner, Udall could also be fighting against a Republican wave that political analysts predict will cost Democrat-held seats nationwide come Nov. 4.

So why shouldn’t Republicans be confident that Gardner will become the state’s next senator?

Remember Michael Bennet?

The Udall campaign is banking on the same, vaunted Democratic get-out-the-vote machine that propelled Bennet to victory in a 2010 race against Ken Buck.

In that race, Bennet was trailing in several polls leading up to Election Day, yet he managed to eke out a victory by a margin of less than 2 percent.

And the Udall campaign believes this year’s ground game is even better than the one that was in place four years ago.

“With our groundbreaking get-out-the-vote efforts and our army of volunteers, we will push it at the goal line,” said Udall campaign spokesman Chris Harris. “Our campaign was built for this moment.”

But Republicans scoff at Democrats’ reliance on the use of playbook from four years ago, one they say has little to do with the candidate himself.

“They say they will win, never because of Mark Udall himself, but it’s always because of tactics,” said Colorado Republican Party spokesman Owen Loftus. “Now they’re saying it’s because of the ground game. There comes a time that you do have to admit – it’s the candidate.”

Polls released last week show Gardner leading the race. A Quinnipiac University poll released on Oct. 16 shows Gardner with a 6 percentage point lead. A CNN/Opinion Research Center survey that was conducted at the same time has Gardner up 4 points.

A handful of other recent polls have also shown Gardner up, although by slimmer margins.

If the CNN poll is an accurate barometer of how election night will go, the Udall team’s biggest concern would have to be lack of robust support he is getting from the group the senator has so strongly courted since the beginning of the campaign: Women.

Udall has spent millions of advertising dollars hammering Gardner on issues like abortion and birth control, trying to paint Gardner’s conservative, pro-life beliefs as being outside the mainstream.

But Republicans slam Udall’s “single-issue” campaign tactics as being offensive toward women. And the “Mark Uterus” monicker has become part of the online and talking head political chatter in similar fashion to the “Both Ways Bob” label that was pinned on Bob Beauprez during the Republican’s failed 2006 gubernatorial bid.

The CNN poll indicates Udall has just a 9 point lead over Gardner when it comes to the support of women voters. That’s not a good number for the Democrat, considering that the same poll shows Gardner’s lead among men is 19 points.

“If that’s the case come Nov. 4, then Udall is toast,” said Eric Sondermann, an independent political analyst.

Sondermann said Bennet needed every bit of the double-digit support he got from women four years ago and that if Udall cannot match Bennet’s performance, it’s going to be a long night for the incumbent.

Sondermann also points out that Udall is seeking re-election during a political climate that does not appear to favor Democrats this cycle. President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are underwater and the consensus seems to be that Republicans will pick up seats in Congress this year.

But Republicans in Congress have even worse approval numbers than the president. And Democrats have done well in Colorado election over the last several years.

Sondermann said the Udall campaign must get Democrats to vote at a time when they may not feel so enthusiastic about doing so.

“That’s their salvation, probably their only salvation is that (the Udall campaign) is able to ramp-up Democratic intensity beyond what it seems now,” Sondermann said.

That’s exactly what the Udall campaign is trying to do, as evidenced by expected visits to the state this week from First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Harris said the ground game Udall has in place is even better than the one Bennet had four years ago.

Udall has 25 campaign field offices and more than 100 field officers, compared to Bennet’s 13 and 30 in 2010, according to Harris.

Harris also believes that recent changes to state election law will aid Udall’s efforts. Last year, the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed sweeping changes to the election system that included the creation of same-day voter registration and the mandate that ballots be mailed to every registered voter.

“It is universally accepted that if everyone voted, (Democrats) would win in a landslide,” Harris said. “The tricky part is turnout.”

But Republicans say they are not worried about this year’s all-mail ballot election. They cite voting statistics from 2012 that showed 85 percent of ballots that were cast that year came in before Election Day any way.

“Those ballots will be landing in our voters’ boxes, just like the Democrats,” Loftus said.

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