Abortion's Death as a Wedge Issue in the West

The issue has gotten dangerous for the GOP, Democratic strategist Laura K. Chapin writes.

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In 2000, there were no Democratic governors in the eight states of the Rocky Mountain West. Now there are five, including one in Vice President Dick Cheney's home state of Wyoming. Sen. Tim Johnson easily won re-election in South Dakota in 2008, and Tom Udall of New Mexico will join his cousin Mark in the U.S. Senate in January.

Social issues are like rocking in a rocking chair—they give you something to do, but they really don't take you anywhere. Politicians rely on them at their peril. Bob Enyart, a director of Colorado Right to Life, which sponsored the amendment, said in a Bloomberg story, "Our goal is to increase the social tension over abortion." Judging by the margin of defeat, the opposite happened. Abortion has lost its potency as a wedge issue in western states and may be on the same downward spiral nationally.

Denver-based Democratic strategist Laura K. Chapin served as deputy communications director for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's 2006 gubernatorial campaign and as a media liaison in his state office. She worked as a consultant for the "No on 48" Campaign.

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