TIME Congress

Record Number of Black Candidates Seeking Office

Cory Booker
Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker visits a campaign center Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Willingboro, N.J. Mel Evans—AP

(WASHINGTON) — More than 100 black candidates will be on the ballot in statewide and congressional races next month, a post-Reconstruction record that some observers say is a byproduct of President Barack Obama’s historic presidency.

At least 83 black Republicans and Democrats are running for the U.S. House, an all-time high for the modern era, according to political scientist David Bositis, who has tracked black politicians for years. They include Mia Love in Utah, who is trying to become the first black Republican woman to be elected to Congress.

Four other black women — Bonnie Watson Coleman in New Jersey, Brenda Lawrence in Michigan, Alma Adams in North Carolina and Stacey Plaskett in the Virgin Islands — are expected to win seats as Democrats, Bositis said. If they all win, and no black female incumbents lose, there should be 20 black women among House members, an all-time high, Bositis said.

There are at least 25 African-Americans running for statewide offices, including U.S. senator, governor or lieutenant governor, also a record number.

The previous record for black candidates seeking House seats was 72 in 2012, the year Obama, the nation’s first black president, was re-elected to a second term. The previous record for statewide contests was 17 in 2002, said Bositis, formerly of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington that focuses primarily on issues affecting African-Americans.

Those statewide numbers include Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, the U.S. Senate’s only black members.

Booker is seeking a full term next month, having won a special election last year to replace the deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Scott, appointed last year, is seeking to finish out the two years remaining in the term of former Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned from the Senate in 2013.

An Obama “coattails effect” is partly responsible for this large candidate pool because it spurred blacks to vote, and encouraged them to pursue offices they might not have sought in the past, said political science professor Fredrick C. Harris, director of Columbia University’s Center on African-American Politics and Society. America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It may be that this is a reflection of political opportunity,” Harris said. He noted a similar increase in black candidacies in 1988, when Jesse Jackson made a second, unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bositis said the increase may also be a result of changing political demographics in regions like the South. “The fact is that many of the increases are occurring in states (especially in the South) where most whites are withdrawing from Democratic Party politics — leaving black candidates the nominations by default,” Bositis said.

Republicans have been heavily courting minorities, spending millions to woo black voters and to recruit women and minorities to run for state and local office. “If elected, these candidates will be great representatives for all their constituents and will continue to play a major role in the party’s efforts to expand the electorate,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Orlando Brown.

While the GOP is building up its numbers, the Democrats have a record number of African-Americans running for statewide and congressional offices, according to Bositis. There are at least 65 Democratic nominees, surpassing the previous high of 59 in 2012.

“The historic number of black Democrats running for office at all levels this year once again confirms that the Democratic Party is a broad coalition of Americans from diverse ethnic and professional backgrounds, focused on expanding opportunity for all and building ladders to the middle class,” said Kiara Pesante, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman.

TIME Campaign Finance

FEC Clears Doubling of Donations With Convention Ruling

US Campaign 2012
The Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Charles Ommanney—Getty Images

Separate convention funding will allow parties to tap as much as $250,000 per donor every four years

Four weeks before the midterm elections, the Democratic and Republican Parties set aside their political differences to celebrate a development they could both agree on: raising more money.

The rare bout of bipartisanship follows a Federal Election Commission decision to allow the parties to raise extra cash to put on their increasingly irrelevant quadrennial prime time love-fests: the presidential nominating conventions.

Congress decided earlier this year to strip each party’s convention of public financing—$18,248,300 a piece in 2012—in hopes of diverting the funds to fund pediatric medical research.

As a result, the committees faced the prospect of funding the conventions from their existing “hard money” accounts, taking dollars out of field campaigns or television advertisements to pay the expensive three- or four-day long events.

To get around that problem, the parties jointly asked the FEC to let them set up separate committees to raise funds and pay for the conventions.

Last week the FEC’s attorneys prepared dueling opinions for the commission to vote on. One argued that the separate convention committees would be arms of the party and should be subject to the same limit. That opinion lost. The other argued the parties should be allowed to have a separate limit. Democratic Vice Chair Ann Ravel joined commission Republicans to pass that option by a 4-2 decision.

The result was a big win for both parties. Instead of tapping core budgets, which are built on maximum donations of $32,400 per donor annually and fund nearly everything the party does, the parties can double dip, raising another $32,400 from the same donors, just for the convention.

Campaign finance reform advocates blasted the outcome Thursday, noting that individuals can now cumulatively donate over $250,000 to the RNC or DNC each presidential cycle. “This is a disgraceful and activist decision that ignores the laws passed by Congress to combat corruption,” said Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center in a statement. “One has come to expect such efforts to dismantle the current contribution limits brick by brick from the current Republican Commissioners, but Vice Chair Ravel’s vote to give the national party committees a new way to tap wealthy donors is incredibly disappointing and irresponsible.”

The Campaign Legal Center warned in comments submitted before the meeting that it could lead to a slippery slope where different party functions are broken off into separate accounts with their own contribution limits, subverting longstanding laws designed to limit the amount of money in the nation’s political system. (The Republican National Committee has filed suit to lift those individual contribution limit to national parties.)

The RNC and DNC celebrated the ruling as “an important, if modest, first step for the parties in continuing to meet their historic responsibility to conduct conventions, which play such a vital role in our democratic process.” But in recent decades the carefully-scripted conventions have become increasingly irrelevant to the political process, as nominees lock up the required delegates well before the gatherings and the party platforms are frequently ignored by candidates for president on down. And while they are opportunities for each party to promote its message on television for a week in prime time, viewership is down and they rarely move the polling dial to lasting effect. Indeed, nominating conventions have become little more than expensive opportunities to reward party insiders with swanky parties and access to political figures.

In fact, the new convention funds are separate from the tens of millions raised by both parties’ “host committees” which are exempt from FEC contribution limits and accept millions in corporate and individual donations. The FEC justifies this separate fund arguing that the host committees are primarily engaged in promoting the cities in which the convention is held, not nominating the party’s presidential candidate. But that distinction is tenuous, at best, particularly when the party’s candidate is asked to step in to help close a shortfall, as Mitt Romney was asked to do in Tampa in 2012. Not to mention longstanding research showing that conventions don’t actually boost the economic development of the host cities.

President Barack Obama’s 2012 host committee secured a loan from Duke Energy that was later forgiven by the Charlotte, NC-based energy company, skirting the candidate’s pledge not to accept corporate funds.

“We appreciate the FEC’s recognition that, as the party convention committees adjust to the loss of public funding, they have authority to raise funds that will help pay the costs of their national conventions,” both parties said in their unusual joint statement.

TIME 2014 Election

Democrats See Obamacare Silver Lining in 2014 Playbook

From fierce opposition to a "fading issue"

A year ago, the health care reform law was an albatross around the Democrats’ collective neck. Its disastrous roll out dominated headlines. Republicans gleefully predicted they would build on their House majority and take back the Senate in the midterm elections thanks to the unpopularity of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

Republicans may well still pick up House seats and win the Senate—but if they do, it won’t be because of Obamacare. The “incredibly fading issue,” as U.S. News and World Report recently called it, it has become “background noise” in an election dominated by parochial interests, as Politico put it. Indeed, some Democrats are going so far as to predict that Obamacare could end up a silver lining come Election Day.

The Affordable Care Act is now the second-most important issue for unmarried women, according to a new poll by Democracy Corps for the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund, a key demographic Democrats are hoping to turn out this November. Unmarried women vote reliably Democratic, but tend not to turn out in midterm elections. If Democrats can turn out that one group at the same levels they voted in 2012, forecasts indicate Democrats would keep the Senate and take back the House.

That kind of turnout is highly unlikely. But every little bit counts as Democrats try to fend off the kind of wave election that drowned them in 2010. That year, a genuine backlash against Obamacare helped Democrats lose the women’s vote for the first time since Ronald Reagan, and the House with it. In most battleground Senate races, Democratic candidates are winning by double-digits with women, particularly unmarried women

The law is also popular with minorities, another demographic with which Republicans have struggled. Some 74% of minorities support the Affordable Care Act, according to the Democracy Corps poll. “The health care law has become much more important as a reason why people are voting for Democrats,” says Stan Greenberg, a co-founder of Democracy Corps. “The threat of repeal appears to be giving unmarried women and minority voters a reason to vote.”

Republicans seem to have felt the tide receding. In April, Obamacare was the subject of 54% all political TV ads; by July that number had fallen to 27%, according to a July report from nonpartisan analysts Kantar Media CMAG. “Obamacare will not be the most important issue,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres, co-wrote in an August memo outlining 57 alternate lines of attack for outside spending groups such as Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network.

Still, opponents still use the issue far more than supporters; overall this election cycle, anti-Obamacare groups have spent 15 times as much on ads than groups supporting the law, the Kantar Media CMAG found. “Did Obamacare dominate the midterms as some Republicans had predicted? Definitely not,” says Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “But has it been used widely by GOP candidates for House and Senate in their TV ads and on the stump? A resounding yes. And that makes sense. Midterm elections are low-turnout battles between the two party bases. Any hot button issue that gets partisan voters to cast a ballot is used extensively. Obamacare still causes Republicans’ blood pressure to rise.”

The Affordable Care Act almost surely remains a net negative for Democrats. “It helped bake voters’ opinions into the general election cake,” says Jennifer Duffy, who follows Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “The early advertising effort also kept vulnerable Democratic incumbents on the defensive. This was particularly helpful in states in which Republicans had primaries.”

Support for Obamacare remains in the red, with 51.1% opposing the measure and only 38.7% supporting it, according to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls. Which is why the handful of positive ads Democratic candidates have attempted to run on behalf of the law—most notably in Arkansas and West Virginia—have been resoundingly mocked by Republicans.

But all the negative attention paid to Obamacare also had another side effect for Democrats. The four states that have seen the highest per capita anti-Obamacare ad spending—Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina—have conversely seen higher rates of enrollment, according to a July study by the Brookings Institution. “In the states where more anti-ACA ads are aired, residents were on average more likely to believe that Congress will repeal the ACA in the near future,” wrote the study’s author, Niam Yaraghi. “People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity.”

TIME politics

Latinos Are Stuck In an Abusive Relationship With Democrats

LA May Day Marches Celebrate Workers, Push For Immigration Reform
Marchers rally under the Chinatown Gateway before marching to the Metropolitan Detention Center during one a several May Day immigration-themed events on May 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Demonstrators are calling for immigration reform and an end to deportations of undocumented residents. David McNew—Getty Images

Arturo Carmona is Executive Director of Presente Action and Presente.org, the nation’s largest online Latino organizing group.

If we don't take a stand and break up with the Party, we may never see Obama take action on immigration

It is clear that President Obama, and perhaps the Democrats more broadly–are starting to see Latinos as a political football to be tossed around when it suits their political needs.

For months, President Obama promised that he—and the rest of the nation—were done with Republican obstructionism on immigration reform. In June–President Obama told us—told the world—that by the end of the summer he would announce how he would use the power of his office to end the threat of deportation for more immigrant families.

In calling out Republican efforts to block reform, the President attempted to paint Democrats as Latinos’ only option for relief. He painted himself, and the Democrats, as our beacon of hope–all while four Senate Democrats plotted behind the scenes to undercut us for political gain.

Senators Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and Jeanne Shaheen joined the charge led by Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz to derail the only pathway that can provide relief for immigrant families–and President Obama caved to their political demands.

President Obama put the politics of their re-election before the lives of countless immigrant families currently under siege.

Frederick Douglass once said, “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted.”

The President, and the Democrats, have been testing Latinos–they have been slowly increasing the injustices committed against our communities to see what our breaking point is. And they have finally found the point of resistance.

If we do not resist–we may never see the President take action to stop deportations, despite the fact that he has the power to do so. We also may never see relief for our communities, for it is clear that relief is not coming from Democrats of their own volition.

The President’s sheepish move put politics over the safety and well-being of immigrant families and communities—all but guaranteeing that many more families will be torn apart, and that thousands more of our undocumented friends, relatives, colleagues, classmates and neighbors will face the horrors of midnight ICE raids and mass deportations.

The Democratic Party is telling us that they no longer have the well-being of Latinos and other immigrant communities at heart–but will we listen?

The national Democratic political apparatus acts to appease us when they fear political cost because they understand that as Latinos become a larger portion of the American electorate, we are crucial to their political power.

But so long as Latinos identify with the Democratic Party when they treat us as political pawns instead of a key constituency they should be wooing, we should not expect better treatment.

To borrow an old, sexist, trope: Why should they buy the cow when they get the milk for free?

Power concedes nothing without a demand. This historical moment demands a new approach: a strategy for changing the nation’s terroristic immigration policy that recognizes that the Democratic Party is not our friend simply because so many members of the Republican Party have shown themselves, in no uncertain terms, to be our enemy.

Latino political power must begin and end with the independence of the Latino vote. It’s time to drop Democratic Party affiliations, and ask the Democrats to work for our votes.

We can’t afford to continue buying into the false choice presented to us by the two dominant parties. That’s why Presente Action has chosen to encourage Latino voters and our allies to turn out in force for the November elections but not vote for the Dirty Four Senators who betrayed our community so publicly and so shamefully: Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and Jeanne Shaheen.

Confronted with broken promises, if Democrats want our votes, they should damn well have to work for them.

Arturo Carmona is Executive Director of Presente Action and Presente.org, the nation’s largest online Latino organizing group.

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

My Shopping Trip With BuyPartisan Changed Everything

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Getty Images/Brand X

Meet the app that helps you put your money where your mouth is

The first thing I did after downloading the “BuyPartisan” app is run to TIME’s office supply closet to inspect the pens.

The debut program from Spend Consciously, a company founded by former congressional staffer Matthew Colbert, allows smartphone owners to scan a barcode and reveal the political contributions from the brand’s board of directors, CEO, employees and PACs. Even in this digital age, the pen is an intimate tool for the fair and balanced reporter and with BuyPartisan suddenly I had a window into the ideological hearts of my dearest inanimate colleagues.

Bic’s cheap-o ball pens, nearly Soviet in quality, are predictably leftist with more than 80% of their donations since 2002—the app currently averages the last six election cycles—going to Democrats. The ostentatious decadence of the ink gushing roller pen from Uni-Ball—the pen where you can draw a lake by leaving it in one spot—is, unsurprisingly, 95% Republican. Mankind’s greatest pen achievement, the workhorse of the genre, the Pilot G2 premium gel roller is more or less down the middle, with 29% to Republicans, 37% to Dems and 34% to “Other” (independents or donations without clear partisan bias). Bipartisanship never felt so good.

BuyPartisan, it turns out, is extremely addictive, as I soon found when I went to scour the aisles at Target, the valhalla of political product voyeurism. To stay organized, I browsed with particular shoppers in mind, the first of which, because it came most naturally, was a seven-year-old boy.

It’s too bad kids don’t care about politics because conservative children (every parent and camp counselor knows that all kids are William F. Buckleys at heart) would have a field day on the candy prowl for Halloween. Hershey, makers of such big candy bar names as Kit Kat, is 79% Republican. Then there’s Snickers, Milky Way and Twix, all made by Mars, which is 75% Republican. Even the tri-color classic, Candy Corn, by Brach & Brock Confections gives 45% to Rs and 28% to Ds, though the CEO personally gives 60% to Dems. Little lefties have to settle for the peanuts in the trail mix of the candy universe, Tootsie Rolls, which are 42% Democratic and 38% Republican.

Woe unto the liberal university student, the next hat I donned in my journey. Virtually every sector of the collegian’s life is dominated by products that funnel money mostly to the Grand Old Party, and it’s not the kind of party they’re looking for, according to 2012 exit polls. The home cleaning category is dominated, obviously, by Proctor & Gamble’s Febreeze which goes 70% to Republicans. Since Febreeze also dominates the personal hygiene category in some dark corners of dorm life, that’s a twofer for the Party of Lincoln. When it comes to food—known more commonly among the university set as Ramen Noodles—college radicals are even worse off. Ramen maker Maruchan Inc. goes 85% to Republicans.

All of which may help explain why so many college students take solace in the one place where the scales tilt, appropriately, nearer to the place we can all meet in the middle. Beer.

Though Coors Brewing Co. skews 49% Republican, the Boston Beer Co. that makes Sam Adams is 80% Democratic. Other excellent beers seem more evenly split. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is 37% Republican to 34% Democrat. New Belgium Brewing Company goes 38% Republican and 42% Democrat. And if they can’t agree on a compromise beer then there’s always the now Russian-owned hipster/grandpa-favorite Pabst Blue Ribbon, which raises a whole set of questions BuyPartisan is not yet capable of answering.

They may have to wait for the upcoming app EyeSpend, which Spend Consciously says will be “a nutrition label for your conscience.” EyeSpend will be similar to BuyPartisan but it’ll show you more than just to which party your money goes. Instead, the user will be able to create a profile tailored to his or her ideological interests and be matched with products that meet that criteria. “Then you can make more informed buying decisions, investment decisions, whatever you want to do,” says Spend Consciously founder Matthew Colbert.

All of which sounds like a whole lot of trouble for the shopper. But also, if I’m being honest, a whole lot of fun.

TIME 2016 presidential election

Iowa’s Leftwing Anti-Hillary Voters Look to Bernie Sanders

Though neither has declared their candidacy, dueling events show Democratic divisions

(Des Moines, Iowa)It is perhaps telling that the host of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ event Sunday night in Des Moines, Dave Swinton, has just rushed back from the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, where Hillary Clinton made an appearance the same day, flipping red meat and hinting at a run.

The 50-year-old senior pastor plans on caucusing for Clinton if she runs in 2016, and his wife, Shari, couldn’t resist the opportunity to take the whole family out to the event just 30 miles south. Swinton left most of his family behind while former President Bill Clinton was speaking so he could make it back in time to set up for the Sanders event scheduled in the basement of his Des Moines church, Grace United Methodist.

Swinton is curious to hear Sen. Sanders, an Independent, speak. A progressive group Swinton often works with has rented out his church’s basement for the event.

“Hillary seems to be the strongest candidate, and I have a lot of confidence in her leadership,” he says, taking a break from setting up chairs. “I thought her speech today hit all the right notes.”

Swinton’s political leanings show the uphill battle in store for a politician like Sanders in trying to gain traction in the 2016 Democratic primaries, should he decide to challenge the 800-pound shadow gorilla in the race, the former Secretary of State.

At the 37th annual Harkin Steak Fry—where Hillary Clinton received the tacit endorsement of Iowa’s powerful Democratic senator and Steak Fry host Tom Harkin— earlier Sunday afternoon, a crowd of more than 10,000 roared in approval when she hinted that she may just run again.

“Hi, Iowa,” Clinton yelled. “I’m baaaack!”

By contrast, Sanders’ event was a relatively low-key affair attended by more than 450 people–still a decent crowd, considering the next caucuses are more than 16 months away. Most who showed were left-leaning populists who supported John Edwards in 2008 and consider themselves solidly in the anti-Clinton camp.

“I like the issues Bernie’s hitting, his anger, because I’m angry,” says Mark Brooks, 62, an Air Force veteran who believes Clinton is too “corporate” to be a good president. “This isn’t the country I defended,” he adds.

Sanders’ message resounded with Brooks. Sanders noted, “We have more people living in poverty than any other time in the history of the United States of America,” touching on 2008-era Edwards’ populist message on poverty.

“It’s a crying shame!” a man yelled in the audience.

“It is a crying shame,” Sanders replied.

Calling for a new jobs program, investment in education and the public funding of elections, Sanders highlights that economic disparity in America has never been greater.

In his speech, Sanders rattles off figures that point to the unfairness that many of his supporters are most concerned about: that top 25 U.S. hedge fund managers made $24 billion last year, or the equivalent of the annual salaries of 450,000 public school teachers. That Walmart is now the largest employer in America while the Walton family, which owns Walmart, possesses as much wealth as the bottom 40% of all earners in America.

“It’s called indentured servitude!” another man yelled—at the top of Sanders’ speech, the politician encouraged “small-d” democratic participation, or what other candidates might consider heckling.

“Sometimes, it is,” Sanders answered gravely.

Right now, Sanders, who would have to switch parties to run for the Democratic nomination, is Clinton’s only major competition on the progressive left. But that doesn’t mean liberals aren’t hungering for some more competition. Stephen Blobaum, 51, a Des Moines salesman, also caucused for Edwards in 2008. He and his father, Reed Blobaum, 79, came to see Sanders speak and support his fire, but both are holding out hope that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will make a run.

“She’s my girlfriend,” Reed Blobaum says with a cheeky smile. “’We admire what Bernie’s doing, but she’s an accomplisher. She gets things done. And Hillary needs to get done.”

TIME

What Voters Care About Most: Economy, Healthcare and Terrorism

A new poll from Pew Research sheds light on key issues in the upcoming midterm elections

Republicans and Democrats disagree sharply over what issues matter most heading into the final stretch of the 2014 midterm elections, but among all issues the economy dominates as the preeminent concern.

About 83% of Americans ranked the economy as their chief concern, followed by healthcare (77%) and terrorism (75%). That’s a drop in importance of the economy from 90% in 2010. Healthcare and terrorism have essentially held steady since then. Republicans are more concerned about the economy and terrorism than Democrats.

For Republicans, foreign policy, the budget deficit and immigration loom largest among issues to consider in the upcoming election, each being named “very important” by at least 70% of polled voters. In contrast, Democrats are more interested in the environment and economic inequality by a similarly wide margins.

The poll also contains some good news for the GOP heading into the midterms: Republican voters are significantly more fired up and 12 percentage points more likely to say they will definitely vote than Democrats.

The survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center between September 2 and 9 and polls 2,002 American adults, including 1,552 registered voters.

TIME 2014 Election

‘War on Women’ Motivates Voters for Midterm Election, Poll Finds

Pro-Choice Emily's List
Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Jan. 22, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

Democrats are betting they can turn out women and minorities to the polls

The “War on Women” seems to be working.

Voters such as women and minorities, who often turn out in smaller numbers during off-year elections, are more motivated to vote when they feel women’s access to birth control and abortion are threatened, and if women and families’ economic security is imperiled, according to a new poll given exclusively to TIME.

“In 2014, women voters have made it clear that they won’t stand for attacks on their economic security or their reproductive healthcare,” said Stephanie Schriock, president EMILY’s List, a group that elects pro-choice women and one of the poll’s sponsors. “The Republican Party’s relentless assault on women’s rights and freedoms is backfiring, and as long as they continue to ignore the real needs of working families, the gulf between them and women voters will only continue to grow.”

Democrats have pegged their hopes this fall to turning out women and minority voters, who tend to drop off during non-presidential election years. To that end, they have introduced and campaigned on a women’s economic agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women, expanding paid medical leave and access to childcare. In 2010, Democrats lost women for the first time in decades, and subsequently lost the House and six Senate seats. Democrats are determined not to repeat that mistake in 2014.

The poll of these drop-off voters in 18 swing states, co-sponsored by EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and American Women, found that 23% of the drop-off voters surveyed ranked their enthusiasm for voting at less than half, but that number plummeted to 12% after hearing motivational messages about women’s health and economic security. Nearly three-quarters, or 74%, called the idea that failing to vote would be sending a message that they endorse the status quo a “very motivating” factor to vote. The same number said “helping working families get ahead” was a “very motivating” factor to vote.

Democrats have been pounding Republicans for their “War on Women,” not just on the economic front—for refusing to vote to increase the minimum wage and for Equal Pay, for example—but on the reproductive front. This strategy was highly effective in 2012, when two GOP Senate candidates made inartful statements about rape and abortion that turned off women voters nationally. The survey found that 70% of drop-off voters said they found reproductive rights and the chance to vote against a pro-life politician a “very motivating” factor to go to the polls in November. And 70% of those polled said allowing an employer to dictate what healthcare coverage a woman gets was a “very motivating” reason to vote.

“This poll confirms what we’re hearing from voters as our supporters knock doors and make phone calls in key states: issues like access to birth control and abortion will get voters to the polls this November,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Republicans, recognizing the problem, have introduced their own Equal Pay legislation and flexible work bills in both chambers, though the bills have yet to see votes. They’ve also made efforts to recruit more women to run for office, a campaign which has seen some progress in the Senate but has fallen short in the House. A recent poll commissioned by two GOP groups, including one backed by Karl Rove, found that female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”

Still, that may prove more of a problem for Republicans in 2016, when Democrats may have a woman, Hillary Clinton, on the top of the ticket, than in 2014. Drop-off voters are notoriously difficult to motivate and Republicans have had fewer gaffes than they did in 2012 concerning rape and abortion. Much will depend on how Democrats effectively make their closing arguments in the final weeks of the election.

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted the telephone poll of 1,000 drop-off voters in 18 battleground states. It included oversamples of 100 Hispanic drop-off voters and 400 likely 2014 swing voters. Interviews were conducted Aug. 4-13. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The battleground states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

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