Is Cory Gardner’s nice-guy persona enough to win in Colorado?

If Cory Gardner can’t win in Colorado, who can? It’s a question that’s about more than just one candidate and one state — it’s about the future of a Republican party that for the past decade has been pulled increasingly to the right, making truly purple states like Colorado appear blue by default. For as much as the Beltway pundit class talks about President Obama being a drag on down-ballot Democrats nationwide, it’s the Republican party brand that could bring down Gardner in Colorado. And if Republicans miss taking back control of the Senate for the third consecutive time because they can’t win in a state like Colorado in an off-year election under a president whose popularity has tanked, it won’t be because Todd Akin moments — viral gaffes from hyperconservative candidates — took them down. It will be because average, independent voters have come to believe that the GOP is the party of Todd Akins.

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