Analysis Politics

ELECTION 2012: Susan B. Anthony List Blames Losses on Inadequate Focus on Abortion; Their Record Proves Otherwise

Robin Marty

When it came to the presidential and senate campaigns, SBA List had an almost perfect record... of losses.

The anti-choice political action arm of the Susan B. Anthony List invested considerable  resources into influencing the presidential race in the final weeks of the campaign, hoping to eke out a win for Republican Mitt Romney. Instead, President Barack Obama was re-elected, a fatet they say rests solely on the shoulders of Romney for not bringing the abortion issue up more frequently.

According to Roll Call, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser believed it was a “strategic error” of Romney’s campaign not to highlight the candidates’ differences on abortion more clearly.

“Voters overwhelmingly disagree with the extreme positions on abortion taken by President Obama and the Democrats. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party, and their Super PAC allies never highlighted this vulnerability, despite the fact that our polling of likely swing voters revealed it to be a persuasive line of argument. What was presented as discipline by the Romney campaign by staying on one message — the economy — was a strategic error that resulted in a winning margin of pro-life votes being left on the table.”

If Dannenfelser was right, and pledges to restrict abortion really would have been the winning issue for the campaign, her group’s overall failures to win their own endorsed races don’t support her argument.

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SBA List endorsed six candidates for senate (this does not include Missouri senate candidate Todd Akin, whom the group continued to verbally support but did not officially endorse), the group had only one successful race—that of Nebraska’s Deb Fischer. The group also endorsed Wendy Long, Richard Mourdock, Pete Hoekstra, Rick Berg and Tommy Thompson, all of whom lost.

SBA endorsed one gubernatorial candidate, New Hampshire Republican Ovide Lamontage. He lost to Democrat Maggie Hassan. They also endorsed Diana Irey Vaughan for Treasurer in Pennsylvania, who lost to Democrat Rob McCord.

Their record was somewhat better in House races, much as Republicans did better in more targeted areas than where a larger voter demographic had to be swayed and where redistricting has less influence. Female House candidate outperformed male House candidates, and incumbents did better than challengers.

Of the 11 incumbent female House candidates, all won re-election. The biggest surprise may have been Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann, who won, but just barely. Normally, Bachmann has done well in her races, but this year she barely squeaked through without triggering an automatic recount. Had she been up against a candidate with previous political experience, she very well could have been swept out of office.

Kristi Noem easily won reelection in South Dakota with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Michigan’s Candace Miller won her district with over two thirds. Jackie Warlorski won in Indiana. Incumbent Vicky Hartlzer won in Missouri and Martha Roby won reelection in Alabama.

Both incumbents Diane Black and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee won reelection, as did incumbents Renee Elmer and Virginia Foxx in North Carolina. In Florida, incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen won an easy reelection as well.

Female challengers or those trying for open seats were a mixed bag. Martha McSally appears to be winning Arizona, and could replace Rep. Ron Barber, who won Gabrielle Gifford’s seat after she left the House. So far the upset is still not official and may go into a recount. Ann Wagner won an empty seat in Missouri, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers won seats in Washington state, but Karen Harrington was unsurprisingly trounced by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida. Ann Marie Buerkle lost in New York and in a shocker Mia Love lost in Utah. Four wins, three losses total.

SBA List male House candidates did even worse. Jim Rennacci kept his seat in Ohio, Steve King fended off Christie Vilsack in Iowa, Ron Desantes won in Florida and Kevin Kramer in North Dakota. Meanwhile, Bobby Schilling was beaten in Illinois by Cheri Butros. John Patton likely lost to Anne Kirkpatrick and Vernon Parker to Kyrsten Simena in Arizona, and John Koster lost in Washington. That left the male congressional endorsements for the group at a 50/50 win lose ration.

Put them all together, and you see the power of re-districting, and the polarity of the voters at a glance. Ultra right-wing candidates were successful if they were incumbents, had a 50 percent chance of election if they were in a very conservative district, and when forced to appeal to the entire state versus a gerrymandered district overwhelmingly failed.

But by all means, focus on denying women the right to an abortion more next election. The Democrats would no doubt love a filibuster-proof majority.

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