What's bad for abortion rights-supporting Democrats legally could be beneficial to them politically. At least that's the thinking among Democratic strategists after the Supreme Court ruled today that closely-held corporations can't be forced to provide contraception to their employees. A key part of the Democrats' Senate strategy is to find ways to mobilize single women, one of their most reliably supportive constituencies, to the polls.
-- A new national survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, helps explain the Democratic game plan. Only 54 percent of unmarried women who are likely to vote said they plan to support the Democratic candidate in the midterm. That's lower than in the GOP wave of 2010 (60 percent), and significantly down from the last election (67 percent). Fewer than three-quarters of those who voted in 2012 are "almost certain" to do so again -- a much lower proportion compared to GOP base voters.
-- Pollster Stan Greenberg found that populist messaging targeted to the middle class, focused on equal pay for women, affordable college and child care, and raising the minimum wage, has the most potential to engage these voters. After testing those female-centric arguments, Democrats gained seven points on the generic ballot.
-- Two Senate races where the strategy will be on display: Colorado and North Carolina. Sen. Mark Udall has aggressively attacked Rep. Cory Gardner's past position on the state's "personhood" amendment, raising the specter of restricted abortion rights if Republicans win. In 2010, the state's Senate race featured one of the largest gender gaps in the country, with self-inflicted wounds from GOP nominee Ken Buck on gay rights and abortion. Gardner praised the ruling, but quickly pivoted to his support for oral contraceptives to be available over-the-counter. Outside groups are hitting Republican Thom Tillis over education cuts, an issue that resonates with women in the state. A new Civitas poll showed Hagan with a whopping 25-point lead among women under 45, reversing a six-point deficit she held the previous month.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tested the economic end of the argument campaigning for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Republicans were surprised to see such a polarizing liberal figure campaigning in a conservative state, but her core economic issues (on paper) poll well, according to Greenberg's findings. Democrats need to exploit a gender gap to have a shot defeating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but they may end up rallying more of the GOP base instead. --Josh Kraushaar