The Republican Party's Remarkable Non-Transformation Knocking on doors in Colorado, NPR's Steve Inskeep reports that the GOP could be close to winning the Senate without changing the political positions that are said to endanger the party's future.
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The Republican Party's Remarkable Non-Transformation

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The Republican Party's Remarkable Non-Transformation

The Republican Party's Remarkable Non-Transformation

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the last days of the campaign, MORNING EDITION's Steve Inskeep went knocking on doors in Colorado. He listened to voters in a state with a vital Senate race. We've heard some of the voters he met in recent days. On this election morning, let's meet one more. She's exactly the type of voter both parties have spent millions courting.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We found her in Lakewood, Colorado. We knocked on every door in this quiet block. Pink flamingos decorated some of the modest brick homes. You could stand in the middle of the street for quite some time without being troubled by a car. But the neighborhood is busier than it looks. We found out about that when Taylor Dybdahl answered our knock and opened the door to a story.

INSKEEP: Hi. We're reporters from NPR - National Public Radio...

TAYLOR DYBDAHL: Mmm-hmm.

INSKEEP: ...And we're here covering the election...

DYBDAHL: OK

INSKEEP: ...Which, I imagine, you've heard a little bit about.

DYBDAHL: Just a little.

INSKEEP: Of course she has. The street is in Jefferson County in the Denver suburbs, considered the epicenter of the campaign. Both parties are doing everything they can to bring out the vote.

Did you know Bill Clinton was in town today?

DYBDAHL: I know, and I missed him 'cause of course I had to be at school.

INSKEEP: Taylor Dybdahl had her hair in a ponytail and wore glasses with violet frames. She's a junior at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Are you paying your way through - student loans, something else?

DYBDAHL: Loans.

INSKEEP: OK.

DYBDAHL: Love it.

INSKEEP: The high cost of education is one of the reasons she is really into politics. She picked a campus close enough that she could live here with her mom and save money. And she is a key voter for Colorado Democrats. They won past elections here by relentlessly focusing on women's reproductive rights. This year, Democratic Senator Mark Udall is focused on them again. And as we chatted by the bench on this concrete porch, our producer, Molly Messick, had a question.

MOLLY MESSICK: Single women have been the target vote, especially in Jefferson County. Have you been inundated? Have you had lots of people calling you, sending you mailers?

DYBDAHL: Especially in the mail, we get a lot of flyers. And they go directly to my recycling bin because I'm like, this is ridiculous, stop sending me stuff. But I've had a lot of people come to the door, especially in Jefferson County - Britney Patterson, who's running for state representative, and I'm like, oh, my God, it's Britney Patterson. And, so, yeah, but I get a ton of people coming. And they're like, can we pledge your vote for Udall, can we do this? And I'm like, can I get back to my homework?

INSKEEP: Not that she's uninterested. A so-called Personhood Amendment is on Colorado's ballot this year. Taylor Dybdahl associates that ballot measure, mistakenly, with the Republican nominee for Senate.

DYBDAHL: Amendment 67, which is the Personhood Bill - Cory Gardner is sponsoring that to try to get, like, major forms of birth control illegal and then having all abortions be illegal.

INSKEEP: It's a matter of debate whether that would be the effect of Amendment 67. Social conservatives have pressed for the measure. It would define unborn children as human beings, protected by the state criminal code. Republican Cory Gardner actually has favored such measures at the state and federal levels. But this year, he says, Amendment 67 is a mistake. Republicans have been working to change perceptions about their party. They want to blunt the force of Democratic appeals to women.

If Gardner was here, I think he'd say this; I used to support a Personhood Amendment, but this time around I'm not supporting it. Does that make you any more sympathetic to him?

DYBDAHL: Not really. If he's done it in the past, but he's saying he's not going to do it now, he might do it in the future. He's saying that he's not supporting it now just to get elected.

INSKEEP: So it sounds like Taylor Dybdahl is a sure Democratic vote. But there's something else you need to know about her - she is studying political science.

DYBDAHL: Everyone's like, what do you want to do with that? And I'm like, long-term goal, U.N. ambassador would be pretty cool.

INSKEEP: And she really wants to think about the issues, in all their complexity. When we met a week ago, she had yet to return the ballot that she, like every registered voter in Colorado, received in the mail. Listen to what happened when we asked about it. Even as she talked, her position seemed to evolve.

So I'm wondering if you have a view of the Senate race, then.

DYBDAHL: Yes. I'm pro-Udall. I love Udall. I understand why people might lean towards Gardner 'cause I am kind of - I like to see myself as an undecided voter. Like, I'm a registered Democrat, but I still don't really know. I like to be registered so I can vote in the primaries. And so I understand why they would want to go for Gardner because Udall - his whole family is politicians. So, like, it's nice to get new blood in there, but I think Cory is just too extreme.

INSKEEP: Extreme, she thinks. But she has friends in rural areas. And they've been telling her Gardner has done good things there. At the time of our interview, a few days ago, she was still thinking.

DYBDAHL: It's a week away, and I'm, like, up in the air still, so...

INSKEEP: Are you serious?

DYBDAHL: I know...

INSKEEP: Because you were so passionate in the beginning about women's - I just assumed - but you could change your mind.

DYBDAHL: Yeah, because it's not just one thing. So if they were running on just women's rights, I would vote Udall. But there's so many other things going on, and there's never just one issue that Senate is tackling at a time.

INSKEEP: For millions of people across the United States, this fall's decision is already made. They mailed in ballots or took advantage of polling places that opened early. The last voters make their choices today.

MONTAGNE: And that's our colleague Steve Inskeep. You can find all our Colorado voter interviews at npr.org.

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