Turns Out It’s Not A Great Idea To Campaign On Rape


Rounding up a list of politicians who made reckless remarks about rape this election season, Erin Gloria Ryan declares that “team rape lost big [Tuesday] night”. Amy Sullivan says it wasn’t so much the messengers as the GOP’s underlying message: 

Mourdock and Akin lost because they each made the mistake of actually trying to explain an increasingly common position by Republican officer-holders, including Paul Ryan…. It’s not unusual for GOP politicians to oppose rape exceptions. But they haven’t previously had to defend that position—at least not on a big stage. When they are forced to explain themselves, as in the case of Akin and Mourdock, it’s not their words that alienate voters, but the idea of forcing women to carry to term a pregnancy that began in rape.

Nona Willis Aronowitz shows why the comments from “team rape” were especially damaging:

According to exit polls, it was 18 percent, an even bigger margin than the 12 percent gender gap in 2008. In crucial swing states like Ohio, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, Obama’s lead with the ladies helped tip the scale in his favor.

Alana Goodman examines how lightning rods like Akin got to be nominees in the first place:

After the blowback the [National Republican Senatorial Committee] received during the Tea Party wave in 2010, the committee stopped endorsing and openly funding primary candidates in open seats. That made it easier for an unfit candidate like Todd Akin to win the Republican nomination. There also wasn’t much the NRSC could have done about Richard Mourdock. While his poorly-worded comments about rape and abortion weren’t as outrageous as they were characterized in the media, they drew outsized attention because of the Akin controversy.

However, Michael Tanner argues that the “blame the Tea Party” view is a red herring:

Akin, contrary to media wisdom, was never a tea-party candidate. During the primaries, most tea-party groups backed one of his opponents. Akin won because he had strong support from social conservatives while the other candidates split the more economically conservative vote. Meanwhile, Mourdock’s self-inflicted wounds were not a result of his tea-party background…. Tea-party voters would do well to realize that simply being anti-establishment is not enough for a candidate. Supporting a candidate with the charisma and talents of a Ted Cruz or a Jeff Flake makes sense. Supporting a Richard Mourdock simply because he shares similar political views doesn’t work as well.