FreedomWorks, Reason Under Fire for Bashing Pro-Life Conservatives

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 5, 2010   |   6:17PM   |   Washington, DC

The pro-life Republican candidates who won landslide victories in races for Congress, state offices and the state legislature didn’t do so well on Tuesday. That’s if you take the arguments from FreedomWorks or Reason magazine.

The libertarian group and publication have gone out of their way this week to make it appear pro-life issues are losing ones for candidates.
Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks read the results of the election as pro-life issues hurting candidates, saying in a Washington Post interview:
“The strength of the movement is the focus on fiscal issues, which tend to be a uniting factor among a vast majority of Americans, especially given the current economic climate. Social issues have distracted and proven divisive in close races–like Ken Buck in Colorado,” he said.
Ramesh Ponnuru, a pro-life writer at National Review, couldn’t let the comment go unanswered.
“This is cherry-picking at best. If social conservatives wanted to engage in a tit-for-tat, they might well ask: How did opposing the minimum wage work for John Raese in West Virginia?” he wrote. “Were Social Security and Medicare strong issues for Angle?”
“But I think it makes more sense for spokesmen for conservatism’s different but overlapping factions to refrain from taking gratuitous shots at each other,” he added.
Reason magazine also posted a column claiming “only people worse than liberals on social issues are conservatives” and “don’t look for the new crew in D.C. or your state capitol to push social tolerance anytime soon.”
Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council says the magazine that touts itself as promoting “free minds and free markets” is closed-minded on social issues.
“Despite the big victories for conservatives this week some in the coalition are looking for ways to blame social conservatives,” he said. “Apparently using the federal government to change established social mores is acceptable for Reason’s brand of libertarianism however fighting taxpayer funding of abortion or thinking individual religious liberty is worth fighting for is unacceptable.”
And on the subject of FreedomWorks, McClusky said, “This is the same organization that once told my boss to ‘shut up'” when FRC president Tony Perkins talked about social issues.
He said the FreedomWorks “spokesperson once pointed out no one takes to the streets to march on the social issues (perhaps forgetting about the many rallies held surrounding protecting marriage as well as the annual pro-life march every January that attracts hundreds of thousands of people.)”
“Each race is local and has different reasons for wins or losses, however a well rounded conservative who is true to his beliefs has a better chance of winning an election then one who is not.  The initial comments are dead on as well,” McClusky said.
One commentor said the problem is not so much that social issues hurt candidates, but that it is the candidates themselves who hurt themselves — or don’t.
“Marco Rubio could hardly be described as anything but a orthodox social conservative, but he nearly received 50% of the vote in a three way race and in a state that was comfortably carried by Obama just 24-mos before,” one comment response said. “Why? Because Rubio didn’t make any mistakes.”
“He articulated conservative ideas in a way that was not repelling to independents. And, he didn’t try to play games with who he was. He owned his conservatism, but he owned it in a intelligent way. There’s a lesson here,” the responder added.

Anyone wanting to know something more concrete on how pro-life issues helped candidates on Tuesday need only look to the Polling Company’s post-election poll of voters.

Thirty percent of all voters said that abortion “affected” their vote with 22% of all voters backing pro-life candidates and eight percent saying they supported pro-abortion candidates — giving pro-life candidates a net pro-life advantage of 14 percent among all voters.
Examined another way, of the Americans who voted based on the issue of abortion, 73 percent picked pro-life candidates while just 27 percent supported abortion advocates.
The post-election polling also found 27 percent of voters said abortion funding in the health care law affected their vote and they voted for candidates who opposed the health care law while just 4 percent said abortion funding in the health care law affected their vote and they voted for candidates who favored the law.