November 13, 2006

Evangelical Turnout Unaffected by Scandals

Appealing to the "base" isn't enough anymore. In 2006, the religious right turned out for Republicans just as they did in 2004, but to no avail. As the New York Times reports,

Defying predictions of widespread disillusionment, white evangelical and born-again Christians did not desert Republican Congressional candidates and they did not stay home, nationwide exit polls show.

When it came to turnout, white evangelicals and born-again Christians made up about 24 percent of those who voted, compared with 23 percent in the 2004 election. And 70 percent of those white evangelical and born-again Christians voted for Republican Congressional candidates nationally, also little changed from the 72 percent who voted for such candidates in 2004.

But in some states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, Democratic Senate candidates who intentionally tried to appeal to religions voters did succeed at winning back a significant percentage of Roman Catholics and white mainline Protestants.

The electoral survey results confirm the failure of the Rovian "base" strategy. The election wasn't decided by Foley's folly or Haggard's hypocrisyit was Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Evangelicals voted in strength on the right, but everyone else moved to the center. As a result, Democrats made substantial gains in the Mountain West and Northeast.

But the most significant shift was in Tennesee, where Harold Ford's near-victory showed that an African American politician can substantially overcome the old Southern barriers if he's a strong centrist.  How sweet it would be if in 2008 our 24-watching nation were to elect Barack Obama with support from every region of the country.  As a Baptist minister who gave his last speech in Tennesee once said, "I have a dream..."

By Will Friedman in Politics | Permalink  | 


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