Curtis Haring writes at Blue in Red Zion that Cooke didn't need to bring the issue up because nobody was talking about it in the first place. Furthermore, he argues it won't bring more voters into the fold and creates problems for other Democratic candidates down ticket.
Yes, your average independent or conservative voter would assume that the Democratic candidate supports gay rights and abortion unless otherwise stated. But they also assume that the Republican candidate does NOT support these issues. By making a statement such as Cooke’s, the campaign has basically said they are the same as the guy you have already voted for in the past – the problem is, they have not given a reason why voters should support Cooke.
Think about it. If Pepsi suddenly ran an ad campaign that said “Tastes Exactly like Coke” odds are low that people will leave the brand that they have loved their entire life. It is only when they add something like “with fewer calories” or “at half the price” do you suddenly give people a reason to change. But, the difference between Coke/Pepsi and Cooke/He Who Shall Not be Named is that if Pepsi launches a new ad campaign touting its similarity to Coke it does not really affect sales of Pepsi’s other products…Not so with Cooke’s statement; suddenly down-ticket campaigns have voters who are now thinking about gay rights and abortion when they would not have been otherwise. Why? Because Cooke answered a question that no one asked.
Let me repeat that: Cooke did not need to address this issue as no one was talking about it…until Cooke brought up the very issue he wished to avoid and responded to a problem that did not exist. To make maters worse he has now created a very real problem that every other Democrat now has to deal with. Down ticket candidates are now more likely to have to discuss two very divisive issues rather than focus on the campaign points that they want to focus on – for most it is transportation, education, and job creation - issues Democrats are strong on; now, as the likelihood of going off message increases, so too does the likelihood that valuable resources are being diverted to discuss these issues, and it is quite possible that votes will be lost in the process.