It’s no secret that Americans are turned off politics and disgusted with Congress. Pundit after pundit has stepped forward to declare the 2014 midterms “an election about nothing.” There are surely good reasons to be pessimistic, but for voters in states with crucial races, the election really is about something—local jobs, God-given freedoms, the right to control one’s body, or how people in the state feel about President Obama. And the stakes are real: Control of the Senate hangs in the balance.

To understand what’s going on in some of the hottest Senate races, The Atlantic has put together its own version of the Proust Questionnaire, focusing on the midterms. And we’ve asked top political reporters and columnists from those states to help understand what’s going on and how it will affect the country.

The Colorado edition features Eli Stokols, a political reporter and anchor at Denver’s KDVR and KWGN and a frequent contributor to Politico Magazine and 5280 magazine. Stokols analyzes the battle between incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Republican Representative Cory Gardner.


What’s the biggest issue in this race?

President Obama isn’t an issue per se but this race is all about him—he’s all Cory Gardner talks about, and he’s someone Senator Udall has tried to avoid talking about as much as possible. Polls, which show how unpopular the president has become in a state where he was first nominated and twice won, seem to show why. Gardner’s broken record attack line, that Udall has “voted with Obama 99 percent of the time,” may well carry the day.

Policy-wise, women’s health issues have dominated, thanks to Udall’s almost total focus on Gardner’s pro-life stance, his past support for abortion bans and a statewide personhood measure, which he disavowed in March, and his seemingly incongruous ongoing support …read more