Udall leads Gardner with women, but will it be enough?

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Democratic Sen. Mark Udall during a debate last month in Grand Junction, Colo.

DENVER — A new survey by left-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Sen. Mark Udall with an 11-point advantage with women voters, which seems like good news for the Democrat’s reelection hopes.

That’s no surprise given Udall’s decision to focus seemingly exclusively on women’s health issues like abortion and birth control in his ads, looking to focus voters’ attention on GOP congressman Cory Gardner’s record just as Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet did successfully in 2010 when he eked out a win over Republican Ken Buck.

But here’s some context: Bennet ended up winning women voters by a 17-point margin, which helped him win the race outright by just one point.

For Udall, who has followed an increasingly familiar strategy, to be up just 11 points could be a concern for his campaign as ballots are being mailed to voters this week.

It could also be the first real evidence that Udall’s strategy, derided as “insulting” by the Denver Post last week in the newspaper’s endorsement of Gardner, is backfiring.

Interestingly, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has focused far less on women’s health issues in his campaign (although the Democratic Governors Association has attacked Republican Bob Beauprez on the subject), is in slightly better position with women voters, holding a 16-point edge over Beauprez.

The PPP survey was commissioned by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank that also issued a policy paper arguing that Gardner’s various policy positions “hurt women and families.”

According to that report, women would stand to pay far more for their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, as Gardner has voted in favor of 52 times; the paper also underlines Udall’s argument that Gardner’s policies would limit women’s reproductive choices and it criticizes his vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and his opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“In an economic climate where Colorado’s leaders should be fighting to expand the middle class, Cory Gardner’s Colorado would squeeze the budgets of working women even more,” concludes Charles Posner, the author of the report.

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