TIME People

Watch a Mom Call C-SPAN and Embarrass Her Fighting Sons

"Oh god, it's Mom"

A mother of two political operatives–one Democrat, the other Republican–called into a live debate between the brothers on C-SPAN on Tuesday to tell her sons to lay off the partisan bickering come Christmas.

Joy Woodhouse called into the show using the regular phone line. Within seconds, her right-leaning son, Dallas Woodhouse, recognized the voice.

“Oh god, it’s Mom,” he says, as the left-leaning brother, Brad Woodhouse, drops his head into his hands.

“I don’t know many families that are fighting at Thanksgiving,” the elder Woodhouse said over the air. “I was hoping you’ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas. I would really like a peaceful Christmas.”

The two brothers work for rival political advocacy groups, at one point broadcasting rival campaign ads in North Carolina, the News & Observer reports.

“Thanks mom,” one of the brothers can be heard saying at the close of the call, though neither one committed to holding a quiet, bipartisan Christmas celebration.

TIME democrats

The Last Southern Democratic Senator Gave Her Farewell Speech

Democratic Senator Landrieu reacts while delivering a concession speech after the results of the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana during a runoff in New Orleans
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu reacts while delivering a concession speech after the results of the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana during a runoff in New Orleans on Dec. 6, 2014. Jonathan Bachman—Reuters

The loss of her Senate seat completes a political realignment that began decades ago

Departing Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu promised to spend her retirement from politics working to repair the environmentally degraded Gulf Coast Thursday in an emotional farewell speech delivered from the Senate floor.

“It is something worth fighting for,” she said. “We would not be a country without the Mississippi Delta.”

In a runoff election December 6, Landrieu lost decisively to Republican Bill Cassidy, making the last statewide elected Democrat in the Deep South. The loss of Landrieu’s seat completes a political realignment in the once solidly Democratic South that began decades ago.

Landrieu, who is from New Orleans, said she will focus her work out of office on issues impacting children and the environment, including coastal restoration, a hot button issue in Louisiana, where wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate.

“The city is going to stay there and the region is going to stay there,” she said.

Landrieu thanked a litany of staffers and lawmakers but had less charitable parting words for one elected official.

“President Bush was not that forward-leaning,” she said of Bush’s response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans. “I’ll just leave it at that. There will be a lot more in my book.

During her 18 years in the Senate, Landrieu was a dependable ally of the oil and gas industry and an unabashed pork-barrel dealmaker who touted her success at diverting federal funds to her state—she famously traded her key vote in favor of Obamacare in exchange for millions of dollars in extra federal support for Medicaid in Louisiana.

Landrieu told Politico it is “highly, highly unlikely” she will run for office again.

TIME Congress

House Democrats Upset Over Proposed Rollback of Wall Street Regulation

Five Years After Start Of Financial Crisis, Wall Street Continues To Hum
A street sign for Wall Street hangs outside the New York Stock Exchange on September 16, 2013 in New York City. John Moore—Getty Images

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday night that she was “hopeful” the House would pass a bill to avert a government shutdown once lawmakers read the final language. But now it appears that top House Democrats have read the bill, and they’re furious with provisions that roll back the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law passed in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

“Buried in the more than 1,600 pages of the omnibus package Republicans posted in the dead of night are provisions to put hard-working taxpayers back on the hook for Wall Street’s riskiest behavior,” said Pelosi in a statement. “This provision, allowing big banks to gamble with money insured by the FDIC, opens the door to another taxpayer-funded bailout of big banks—forcing middle class families to bear the burden of Wall Street’s mistakes.”

The Dodd-Frank provision in question forces huge commercial banks to “push out” some derivatives trading—like risky credit default swaps—into units that aren’t backed by the federal government’s deposit insurance fund, the FDIC. The top Democrats on the House Budget and the Ways and Means committees, respectively Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin, staunchly oppose the provision’s repeal.

“They should be responsible for their actions,” said Levin of the banks involved in such derivatives trading. “This is a terrible mistake to put it in this bill…It should be taken out.”

“This jumps off the page as something that is inexcusable,” he added.

Pelosi’s office blasted out statements by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calling on Congress to drum up support and media attention to preserve the Dodd-Frank provision. Pelosi’s office also sent out an email from campaign finance groups urging members to vote against the bill, as it triples the caps donors are allowed to give to national parties for presidential nominating conventions, building expenses and election recounts. As the Washington Post noted, that would allow a donor to give the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee a maximum amount of $324,000, which is ten times the current limit. Pelosi’s sentiment that Democrats should get both provisions out of the bill were echoed by Van Hollen and others.

“The combination again speaks to everything that’s wrong with this process—special interest giveaways and more openings for special interest funding [for] the congressional political committees,” said Van Hollen, who would vote no against the bill in its current form. “As to these two provisions, these are news to me.”

“It’s a bad deal for the public,” he added. “You got a 1,600 page bill and they thought they would be able to tuck these provisions in maybe with nobody noticing. But people notice.”

It’s unclear if the Democratic and conservative opposition is so strong that the trillion-dollar appropriations bill won’t pass as is. Van Hollen said that Democratic resistance is “deep and getting deeper.” House conservatives, meanwhile, have stated that the bill doesn’t go far enough in protesting President Obama’s executive action on immigration temporarily deferring deportations for up to five million immigrants who came to the country illegally. Congress could pass a short-term bill funding the government for a matter of days to avert a shutdown on December 11.

Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, the top Democratic negotiator for the trillion-dollar legislation, said that the bill was a “monumental achievement” both for Congress and their constituents. Knowing that Democrats’ negotiating position would be weaker next year with Republicans taking over the Senate after the midterm elections, Mikulski told her colleagues to “stay steady.”

TIME

Morning Must Reads: December 8

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

California Protests Turn Violent

A second night of protest against police killings in Missouri and New York City turned violent again in Berkeley, Calif., as some demonstrators threw explosives at officers, assaulted each other and shut down a freeway, police said

Why Dealing With Uncertainty is Easier for Some People

A study identifies personality traits that may distinguish those who are better or worse at waiting — some of which, thankfully, may be adaptable

Behind the Rescue Op in Yemen

Navy SEALs flew into southern Yemen early on Saturday to rescue American captive Luke Somers, but they only succeeded in rescuing his body

U.S. Gas Prices Hit 4-Year Low

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped 12¢ over the past two weeks, reaching a four-year low, a new survey finds. The falloff is attributed to a spike in crude-oil production in North America, a slowdown in demand and a strong dollar

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Tops Box-Office for Third Week

Mockingjay benefits from star power, family friendliness and established popularity. But even so, its box-office power is less attributable to esteem for the franchise than to the fact that it doesn’t have much competition right now

Ebola Patient Reveals Identity

A doctor who contracted Ebola while treating patients in Sierra Leone and was evacuated to the U.S. for care in September has revealed his identity. The viral load in his blood was 100 times that of the facility’s other patients

Prince William and Kate Arrive in New York City

Prince William and Kate arrived in New York City on Sunday night for a three-day trip, the most anticipated royal visit since the glory days of Diana. “The level of excitement in New York has been absolutely phenomenal,” said the British consul general

U.S. Transfers 6 Guantanamo Detainees

The men were moved from Guantanamo Bay to Uruguay, marking the largest group to depart the prison since 2009 and first resettle in South America. The detainees include four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian

Democrats Sink in the South

The fall of Sen. Mary Landrieu means Louisiana won’t have a Democratic statewide elected official for the first time since 1876. The Republican Party will control every Senate seat, governor’s mansion and legislative chamber from the Carolinas to Texas

Boyhood Wins Another Top Prize

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has awarded Boyhood four prizes, including Best Picture, in the latest coup for the coming-of-age movie. Just a day earlier, the Boston Society of Film Critics honored the film with five awards, also including Best Picture

New Delhi Bans Uber Following Rape Accusation

The city of New Delhi banned popular ride-sharing service Uber on Monday afternoon, a few days after a 27-year-old female passenger accused one of its drivers of sexually assaulting her. However the ban is not in connection with the alleged attack but rather transport laws

Inventor of First Gaming Console Dies

Ralph Baer, the man known for creating the first-ever video-game console, which still serves as a blueprint for the Xboxes and PlayStations of today, has passed away aged 92. Over the course of his career, he accumulated over 150 patents and won many awards and honors

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TIME Immigration

Latinos, Young Voters Applaud Obama Action On Immigration, Polls Show

Immigrants Rally To Thank Obama
Nov. 21, 2014 - Washington, District of Columbia, U.S. - Hundreds of Latino activists and families gather outside of the White House the day after Obama's immigration executive order in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014. Oliver Contreras—Zuma Press

Latino voters of both parties blame Congressional Republicans for failing to pass an immigration reform bill

The vast majority of Latinos and voters under the age of 35 support President Barack Obama’s executive action last Thursday shielding between 4 and 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to new national polls.

The overwhelming support from these two growing demographics may have major implications for voter turnout and party affiliation in 2016.

Almost 90% of Latino voters say they “support” or “strongly support” Obama’s executive action, according to a national poll by Latino Decisions and commissioned by two pro-immigration reform groups, Presente.org and Mi Familia Vota.

Nearly three-fourths (72%) of voters under the age of 35 supported the president’s action, according to a national poll by Hart Research Associates [PDF].

While both Latinos and young voters showed particularly strong support, 67% of all voters—both men and women from states that supported both Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012—felt favorably toward the executive action, according to the Hart Research poll. More than two-thirds of all voters were in favor of allowing the undocumented parents of children or young adults to stay in the U.S., and of providing temporary work permits to eligible immigrants.

Both polls found that voters believe Obama’s executive action is lawful. Respondents strongly disagreed with strategies, suggested by some Republicans, to fight the action: 72% of voters opposed the idea of Republicans shutting down the government until the president agrees to end the executive action, according to the Hart Research poll. (62% of Tea Party Republicans were in favor of that strategy.) Four out of five Latino voters opposed the idea of Republicans passing a bill to defund a federal program issuing work permits to undocumented workers, according to the Latino Decisions poll.

Latino support for the executive action appears to be largely bipartisan, according to Latino Decisions. While 95% of Democratic Latino voters were in favor of the executive action, 76% of Republican Latinos were as well. The issue of immigration reform remains deeply personal for many Latino voters, 64% of whom have friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances who are undocumented.

Sixty-four percent of Latino voters blamed Congressional Republicans for failing to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill; 24% blame Obama and Democrats, according to the Latino Decisions poll.

Insofar as Latino voters were disappointed by Obama’s executive action, the reason seems to be that it didn’t go far enough. Two-thirds (66%) of Latinos said that Obama should use additional executive orders to shield from deportation those undocumented immigrations who were not covered by last Thursday’s action, which covers only those who have not committed a crime, lived here five or more years, and are either parents of a U.S. citizen or legal resident child here in the U.S. The action does not grant them citizenship, but it does allow them to get legal work permits.

The Latino Decisions poll included 405 Latinos randomly selected from a nationwide database of registered voters. Its margin of error is +/- 4.9%. The Hart Research Associates poll surveyed 800 likely 2016 voters and had a margin of error of +/-3.5%.

TIME Congress

Nancy Pelosi Backs New Mexico Rep. For DCCC Chairman Role

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, 42, would be first Latino to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Nancy Pelosi said Monday she wants Rep. Ben Ray Luján to be the next chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The House Minority Leader called the New Mexico Democrat a “dynamic and forward-thinking leader” who would be ideal for the role of recruiting and supporting candidates going into the 2016 election.

If voted in on Tuesday, Luján will be the first Latino to serve as the head of the DCCC. He currently serves as the first vice-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Appointing a Latino leader to the prominent role could be seen as a boon for Democrats hoping to attract more Hispanic voters to head to the polls in two years. Luján said Monday that Americans can set their expectations high going into the next election cycle.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more Democrats elected in 2016,” he said.

The news of Pelosi’s support for Lujan ahead of Tuesday’s vote the position comes in the wake of mounting pressure from progressives to reject Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, who was also in the running for the top spot at the DCCC. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee blasted Himes as a “Wall Street Democrat” who would “hurt Democratic chances in 2016.”

Pelosi also threw her support Monday behind DCCC chairman Rep. Steve Israel, who has been eyed to head up policy and communications, and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.), both tapped to co-chair the steering and policy committee.

Pelosi is expected to easily assume her role as House Minority Leader following tomorrow’s morning vote.

TIME Senate

Elizabeth Warren Joins Senate Democratic Leadership

Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. listens as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, after Senate Democrats voted on leadership positions for the 114th Congress. Susan Walsh—AP

The progressive leader joins the Democratic leadership in a newly created role

The Senate Democrats voted in new leadership on Thursday, including progressive standard-bearer Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who will take on a newly created role.

Following an hours-long leadership vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters he expects “Elizabeth Warren to be Elizabeth Warren” in her new role as the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee’s strategic policy adviser. The role, several outlets are reporting, was created specifically for Warren.

The addition of Warren brings some star power to the Democrat’s senior ranks, though it’s not clear how much clout will come with the new position.

Reid was chosen to continue leading Democrats in the Senate, though at least two of his peers, Sens. Claire McCaskill and Joe Manchin, told reporters they did not cast votes for anyone, according to the Washington Post.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana will also take on leadership roles for the Democrats. Klobuchar will chair the Senate Democratic Steering Committee, and Tester will now chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Reid praised Tester’s victories in two tough elections in announcing the Montanan’s selection to lead the DSCC ahead of the 2016 election. In a statement released by the DSCC Thursday, Tester said he’s accepting the position to “recruit and support candidates who understand the issues facing regular, working Americans.”

The new Democratic leadership team includes four women and three men. When asked about the number of women who now serve beside him in the leadership, Reid said Thursday, “I have seen this institution change for a lot of reasons, but one reason it has changed for the good is because of women.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do you frighten political strongmen? Teach journalism.

By Thomas Fiedler in the Conversation

2. Far from policing free will, taxes on sugary drinks make sense in the context of subsidies for corn syrup and the Medicaid and Medicare expense of 29 million Americans with diabetes.

By Kenneth Davis and Ronald Tamler in the Huffington Post

3. Palm oil production has a devastating impact on the environment, but smart science and better farming could reduce the harm.

By Michael Kodas in Ensia

4. We shouldn’t let Ebola panic squelch civil liberties.

By Erwin Chemerinsky in the Orange County Register

5. What we learn from video games: Giving military robots controls like “Call of Duty” could save lives on the (real) battlefield.

By Patrick Tucker in Defense One

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2014 Election

Republicans Win the Senate in Midterm Elections

Party retakes upper chamber amid disapproval of Obama

Republicans won the Senate for the first time in almost a decade Tuesday night, giving the party control over both chambers of Congress, and setting the stage for even more political confrontation with President Barack Obama during his final two years in office.

The GOP needed to pick up at least six seats to recapture the majority and as of late Tuesday night it had netted seven, with the possibility of winning one more when the Louisiana Senate race goes to a runoff next month. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell prevailed in one of the hardest-fought reelection fights of his career, and will almost certainly be selected by his colleagues as Majority Leader.

MORE: See all the election results

“The truth is tonight we begin another [fight], one that is far more important than mine, and that is to turn this country around,” McConnell told cheering supporters in Louisville after dispatching Alison Lundergam Grimes, Kentucky’s Secretary of State. Looking ahead to dealing with Obama as a lame duck, McConnell, who famously described the GOP’s top political priority as making him a one-term president, opened the door just a crack to compromise.

“We do have an obligation to work together on issues where we can agree,” he said. “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.”

Current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who will now have to yield the top spot to McConnell in December, congratulated his colleague—and often nemesis.

“The message from voters is clear: they want us to work together,” Reid said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Senator McConnell to get things done for the middle class.”

MORE: The challenge for the new Republican majority

Republicans won competitive Senate races in Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas and Colorado, and held off a wealthy independent candidate who almost brought down longtime Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas. The GOP prevailed in a multi-candidate Senate race in South Dakota where Democrats had hoped an independent candidate would split the vote, and picked up a Montana Senate seat vacated by a retiring Democrat as expected.

In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen held off Republican Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who moved to the Granite State to challenge Shaheen. The Senate race in Louisiana headed to a Dec. 6 run-off after neither Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu nor Republican challenger Bill Cassidy mustered the majority support needed to win outright. But when Republicans knocked off the Democratic incumbent in North Carolina, the GOP had the seats it needed for the majority.

Republicans expanded on their majority in the House as expected.

“This is possibly the worst possible group of states for Democrats since Dwight Eisenhower,” President Barack Obama told a Connecticut radio station earlier in the day of the political map facing his party. “There are a lot of states that are being contested where they just tend to tilt Republican. And Democrats are competitive, but they tend to tilt that way.”

Obama, whose middling approval ratings are dragging down Democratic candidates across the country and who has exclusively campaigned for candidates in safe Democratic territory, mostly stayed out of sight Tuesday. He held meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and officials handling his Administration’s Ebola response, but he didn’t campaign. Exit polls indicated voters felt deep dissatisfaction with Obama and both parties in Congress, with two-thirds saying the country was headed on the wrong track.

The President famously declared the 2010 election a “shellacking” the day after Democrats lost the House to Republicans, and a White House official said late Tuesday that he had “invited bipartisan, bicameral congressional leaders to a meeting” for Friday. The Administration sought to downplay the idea that the race was about Obama. “Ultimately it’s the quality of these candidates that are going to be the driver in this election,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Early Wednesday, Earnest said Obama would hold a news conference in the afternoon.

The Republican Party now faces the challenge of governing with full control of Congress, and will surely continue to face competing pressures from conservatives who want to challenge Obama by passing ideologically “pure” legislation and forcing him to veto it, and from moderates who see cutting big deals on immigration and other issues as the better path toward winning back the White House in 2016. The obstacles facing McConnell were again on display just moments after Republicans emerged victorious when Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a staunch Tea Party conservative and possible 2016 candidate, again won’t commit to backing McConnell for Majority Leader.

“That’ll be a decision for a conference to make,” Cruz said on CNN. Tonight “was a powerful repudiation of the Obama Administration,” Cruz said.

The only potential bright spot for Democrats was supposed to be gubernatorial races, where some Republicans elected during the GOP wave of 2010 looked poised to go down in defeat. But in Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott held off Democrat Charlie Crist, a party-switching former Republican governor of the state himself. And Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has been a top target for Democrats ever since he pushed through legislation that stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights, beat his Democratic challenger.

— With reporting from Jay Newton-Small, Alex Rogers and Maya Rhodan

Read next: The weirdest moments of Election Day 2014

TIME 2014 Election

The Surprising Struggles of Mark Udall to Win Colorado Women

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) speaks to supporters as he kicks off his 'Mark Your Ballot' bus tour on Oct. 15, 2014 in Denver.
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) speaks to supporters as he kicks off his 'Mark Your Ballot' bus tour on Oct. 15, 2014 in Denver. Doug Pensinger—Getty Images

He is not the only Democrat in trouble with the one demographic Democrats bet would save them the midterms

If you live in Colorado, you might be forgiven for thinking the 2014 midterm elections are about one thing: abortion. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday released a new television ad hitting GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, who is challenging Sen. Mark Udall for his Colorado seat, for not “being honest with women.”

“Cory Gardner is trying to hide that he is sponsoring a new law to make all abortions illegal, even for victims of rape or incest,” says the DSCC release. The ad features OB-GYN Dr. Eliza Buyers, who slams Gardner: “Cory Gardner is wrong to make abortion illegal and just as wrong not to tell the truth about it.”

Udall himself has two other ads up targeting female voters. In one, another Colorado OB-GYN talks about Gardner’s “long record of fighting to roll back women’s access to health care.” And a second ad calls out Gardner “for personhood lies.” About half the ads he has run again Gardner have highlighted what Democrats call Gardner’s extreme stances on women’s reproductive rights.

The problem is Gardner refuses to play along. In March, he retracted his support for a measure on so-called personhood, or the belief that life begins at the moment of conception, and has since backed making contraception—though not all forms of it—available over the counter.

Now, with a week to go before the election, Udall is down 2.8 percentage points in polls, according to an average of Colorado polls by Real Clear Politics. More troublingly he’s down amongst female voters in at least two polls. If Udall loses women, he’s lost his seat.

Udall’s narrow focus helped cost him the support of the Denver Post, the state’s largest paper. “Rather than run on his record, Udall’s campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives,” the Post said in its endorsement of Gardner. “Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”

And Udall isn’t the only Democrat struggling to turn the focus on women into a winning strategy. In Kentucky, Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes is even with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell with women, as is Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat fending off a strong GOP challenge from Rep. Tom Cotton in Arkansas. Like Udall, both Grimes and Pryor have invested heavily in turning out the women’s vote.

The “War on Women” is a playbook Democrats ran successfully in 2012, with significant assists from GOP senatorial candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock whose inopportune remarks on women and rape helped paint the party as out-of-touch on female issues. Unfortunately for Democrats, there have been no Akin and Murdoch repeats and candidates like Gardner have been much savvier in their messaging on women’s issues.

“A myopic focus on reproductive freedom and the ‘War on the Women’ does not seem to be an effective way to mobilize and motivate women in a year when the economy and jobs are at the forefront of voters’ minds, and GOP candidates have not made the same kinds of mistakes that Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock did in 2012,” says Jennifer Lawless, director of American University’s Women & Politics Institute. “In other words, courting the women’s vote is a smart move; the way several Democrats have gone about doing it has been not so smart.”

To be fair, the strategy is clearly working in other states like North Carolina, Georgia and New Hampshire where Democrats hold double-digit leads with women. And Colorado is notoriously difficult to poll. A Democratic poll released Monday showed Udall up by 9 points amongst female voters. Matt Canter, a spokesman for the DSCC, says that Colorado’s move to an all-mail voting system this cycle favors Democrats. Canter also noted that in the early voting returns thus far many female voters who did not vote in 2010 but did in 2012 are already turning out for Udall. “Public polls in Colorado were wrong in 2012 on Mitt Romney and they were wrong in 2010 on failed GOP Senate contender] Ken Buck,” says Canter. “We believe we maintain a strong advantage with women and that advantage is important for all these races.”

Certainly, Democrat Michael Bennet’s race against Buck is the template for Udall’s tough reelection. “In 2010 Michael Bennet was able to survive a midterm election in which Democrats lost their House majority in what Obama called a shellacking losing a record 63 seats and they barely hung onto Senate control because of his strength with women voters,” says Michele Swers, an associate professor at Georgetown University who specializes in women in U.S. politics. “Udall is trying to replicate that.”

The problem is, unless Udall’s polls are to be believed, “the gender gap in this race isn’t as great as it has been in past Senate races, notably 2008 and 2010,” says Jennifer Duffy, who follows Senate races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

Arguably, the focus on turning out the women’s vote has kept 2014 from being a wave year: the only seats in play are in purple or red states, not blue ones. Progressive Sen. Al Franken, for example, is sailing through to reelection in Minnesota.

But unmarried women, the demographic Udall is targeting, are notoriously bad drop off voters in non-presidential years and clearly they seem to be motivated in some states more so than others. Udall has bet his race on turning them out. If they fail to materialize, Democrats will have to ask themselves: Was winning women the right strategy for all of their races? And when does it work and when doesn’t it and why?

 

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