‘They’re getting killed among women’: Republicans frantically try to salvage Senate hopes

By Laura Clawson | 7 September 2022
Daily Kos

(Photo: Victoria Pickering / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Increasingly concerned about their Senate prospects, Republicans have pulled the emergency cord: They’ve brought out the candidates’ wives. In state after state, Republican Senate candidates are trying to soften their image and appeal to women voters by having their wives or daughters speak to the camera.

That’s because, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the wave of state abortion bans that followed, Republicans are in big trouble with women as they run candidates with extreme anti-abortion positions that voters are suddenly paying a lot of attention to. A recent Wall Street Journal poll found voters saying that abortion was the single issue most likely to make them vote—and that Democrats were leading Republicans among white suburban women, 52% to 40%. A Republican strategist told Politico that abortion came in just behind inflation as an issue Georgia and New Hampshire voters care about, according to internal polling. In other words, all those Republican efforts to claim that the only thing voters really care about is inflation are falling flat.

“I’m convinced that, based on numbers we have, Republicans have to make some kind of leap on the abortion issue,” one Republican strategist told Politico. “Because they’re getting killed among women.”

So the wives it is, trying to set a gauzy filter over their husbands’ extremist views. Because, as it turns out, pointing a camera at Blake Masters while he insists that Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly “votes for the most extreme abortion laws in the world” is not effective when a different video exists of Masters using the word “demonic” in reference to abortion and saying, “You make it illegal and you punish the doctors.”

For some mysterious reason, Masters is not the most credible messenger for the claim that he doesn’t want to make it illegal and punish the doctors, so his campaign is hoping that a woman will help. Masters “would make Arizona so proud,” according to his wife Catherine, in the wake of Masters’ campaign scrubbing his website of extreme anti-abortion language and working to distance him from his own views.

Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance’s wife Usha cut a similar ad, saying Vance is “an incredible father, and he’s my best friend,” in an ad. As if being a good father to one’s own children helps pregnant people forced to give birth.

Both the Vance and Masters ads use obligatory footage of the couples’ children.

In Nevada, the ad starring Republican nominee Adam Laxalt’s wife focuses on Laxalt’s “difficult” childhood and being raised by a single mother. “Everything he had to overcome helped to make him a good man,” Jaime Laxalt says in the ad. Laxalt’s mother may not have had a college education, as his ad stresses, but she was a Republican operative and the daughter of a senator. Secrecy surrounding who his father was (then-Sen. Pete Domenici, who was married to someone else) might have made Laxalt’s childhood difficult in some ways, but they’re not the ways implied by “raised by a single mom with no college education.”

Republicans like to rail against Democrats as obsessed with identity politics, but let them trail among women voters, and suddenly Republicans are acting like trotting out candidates’ wives for soft-focus “best friend” talk is all women need to forget that the candidates call abortion “demonic” or compare it to slavery.

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