Oct 21, 2022 - Politics

Political Pulse: Democrats focus on abortion, voters not so much

Illustration of a caduceus over a divided red and blue background with elements of ballots.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Democratic candidates are returning to the issue of abortion as ballots arrive in mailboxes in Colorado.

Yes, but: It's not the top issue for voters anymore. The economy and inflation are at the top of the list and abortion ranks below crime, new national polls show.

Why it matters: The shifted focus among voters now favors Republicans, and Democrats may struggle to break through the election noise if they are still talking about abortion.

Zoom in: Attorney General Phil Weiser's new TV ad attacks his Republican rival John Kellner by accusing him of wanting to criminalize abortion, and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's latest campaign commercial โ€” paid for in part by national Democrats โ€” focuses on the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

  • For Bennet, it's the third abortion-themed TV ad against GOP challenger Joe O'Dea since late August.

The big picture: The strategy mirrors the White House approach to bring abortion back to the forefront. Earlier this week, President Biden said the first bill he'd submit to Congress would put abortion protections into law.

๐Ÿ“บ Republicans are increasingly eyeing Colorado as a pickup opportunity in the U.S. Senate race, and that means a flood of outside money from both sides of the political ledger.

  • The Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC affiliated with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, gave $1.25 million earlier this month to the American Policy Fund, a group supporting O'Dea.

The other side: The League of Conservation Voters, which backs Democratic incumbent Bennet, spent $1.3 million in TV ads and the gun regulation advocates at Giffords PAC raised their total investment to $5 million.

The big picture: Democrats are leading the money battle with $18 million set aside for campaign ads, compared to $12 million for Republicans, Politico reports.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Gov. Jared Polis upped the ante in his re-election bid, donating another $1 million to bring his personal investment in the race to $12.1 million, the Colorado Sun reports. Thatโ€™s about half of what he spent to win in 2018.

  • GOP challenger Heidi Ganahl added another $200,000 in cash from her pocket and a $400,000 loan earlier this month. She's put in about $1.9 million to date.

Of note: Outside organizations are playing in the governor's race too. Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund is spending $2.7 million on campaign advertising in the Denver area, much of it targeting Ganahl and O'Dea, Colorado Politics reports.

  • The gun-regulation group is backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who owns property in Colorado. He also gave $2 million to an anti-Ganahl group in recent weeks.

๐Ÿท Propositions 125 and 126 to expand alcohol sales in Colorado rank among the 10 most expensive ballot fights in the nation, according to Open Secrets, an organization that tracks political money.

By the numbers: The two measures โ€” both pushed by grocery store chains โ€” each have seen $12 million raised to support or oppose them.

๐Ÿ—ณ Political Pulse is a regular feature from Axios Denver to help you catch up quick on Colorado politics.

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