Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Polls and such

This Pew poll suggests that the Foley mess hasn’t made a huge difference in voter attitudes, which were already unfavorable to Republicans. Does this mean that things can only get better?

Well, no, says the WaPo’s Alan Cooperman, who’s looking at Pew data I can’t find anywhere. His data, which may find its way to one of the Pew sites in the next few days, suggest that evangelicals are cooling a bit on Republicans (Foley hurts here, but so do a lot of other things), but not warming to Democrats:

"The allegiance of evangelicals has been more in flux over the past 12 months, suggesting that the considerations going into their votes are changing," said Scott Keeter, Pew’s director of survey research.


In addition to the war and congressional scandals, those considerations may include a broader definition of religious issues. Some influential ministers, such as the Rev. Rick Warren, author of the bestselling "The Purpose-Driven Life," are urging evangelicals to fight poverty, safeguard the environment and oppose torture on biblical grounds.

To the extent that evangelicals now view these issues as "matters of conscience" alongside abortion and same-sex marriage, they could shift some votes into the Democratic column, said Ron Sider, head of the group Evangelicals for Social Action.


Another factor in evangelicals’ changing loyalties may be the efforts of Democrats to reach out to them. In Michigan, evangelical pastors helped write the preamble to the state party’s new platform. "Democrats in this state are seeking the Common Good -- the best life for each person of this state. The orphan. The family. The sick. The healthy. The wealthy. The poor. The citizen. The stranger. The first. The last," it says.


But before Democrats take credit for the shift, they might ponder one of the findings in a recent survey of 2,500 voters by the Center for American Values, a project of the left-leaning People for the American Way Foundation: Republicans have lost more support (14 percentage points) than Democrats have picked up (4 points) among frequent churchgoers.


That rings true to Michael Cromartie, an expert on evangelicals at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington think tank. "Erosion for evangelicals doesn’t necessarily lead to Democratic voting. It leads to nonvoting," he said.

Here is the other survey that Cooperman cites.

The Pew site also has this commentary on state-level partisan allegiances. If you look at the regional trends, things continue to look pretty good for Republicans over the past six years, except on the coasts (shocking!). A closer look at particular states suggests that the Power Line guys would have to be unhappy with Minnesota, which looked better a couple of years ago than it does now, and everyone (well, every Republican) should be worried about Virginia, which seems to be trending Democratic. You couldn’t tell it by the horserace polls, but Ohio looks better for Republicans now than it did a few years ago. So if you step back and look at the proverbial big picture, the Bush years have been relatively good for Republicans. But that doesn’t mean that November 7th, 2006 will be good for them, only that politically the underlying trends look mildly favorable.

Discussions - 9 Comments

According to The American Thinker, ABC has stooped to begging anyone and everyone to submit fake but inaccurate tales of Foley follies, The Anchoress has confirmed your point that the Foley mess hasn’t made a huge difference in voter attitudes in a rather risque sort of way (woohoo!) and Roger L. Simon comes out of the closet and declares himself to be a lesbian, stuck in a man’s body, asking the question Can we get back to serious issues now?

It’s been a fun little diversion, but the sky has not fallen. It’s time to spank (figuratively) the Dems and the DemSM for making such a big deal out of this and get back to the important issues.

Evangelicals are the soft underbelly of the conservative coalition. Most of them don’t really seem to understand politics. In addition, they are really more interested in more respect, now that they see how difficult it is for them to make anything happen in the political arena. And the Dems will be happy to fake respect.

Don’t get me wrong. Some evangelicals are stellar politically and are a powerful witness against the creeping tyranny. But there aren’t enough of this quality, from what I can tell.

One of these days, when the easily disillusioned and the holier-than-thou nonvoters are cowering behind the closed doors of their homes and churches for fear of the PC police, they’ll wonder what went wrong. Maybe some will be smart enough, finally, to look in the mirror.

Some evangelicals are stellar politically and are a powerful witness against the creeping tyranny. But there aren’t enough of this quality,

I suspect you’re wrong, T.R. I suspect only the most head in the sandest, politically correctest minority of appologists don’t recognize the intentions of the "moderate" and "fanatical" Muslims to convert all Christians to Islam by the sword. Neither do any but the most deluded Christians believe that anyone but the most serious in the War Against the Terrorists, "moderates" and "fanatics" alike, can save their descendants from dhimmitude. Neither do any but the most deluded believe that anyone in the Democratic Party, besides dinosaurs such as Lieberman, are at all serious about the threat of Islam to ourselves and, more importantly, to our descendants.

It’s one thing to recognize something from time to time. It’s another to make it the basis of everything you say and do politically.

Many evangelicals are not, in that sense, serious. They let their childish emotions overcome their judgment.

The problem with evangelicals is that they are Christians. Good Lord, the whole turn-the-other-cheek-love-thy-neighbor-do-unto-others-worry-not-about-tomorrow mentally just couldn’t be any less political...really. They are easily duped by "good men," and they get all upset about little things like, oh...gay pedophilia, fetus murder/harvesting, pornography on the tube...little (society-busting) stuff like that.

In all seriousness, gaining evangelical trust can be like herding cats, but these cats are definitely worth having around. I see no solution but to give them what they want...duh. What has the GOP been thinking?

Yes, give them what they want -- to the extent that we can, which is more than we (I mean the party leaders) have.

But also educate them about how horrible the Democrats are.

It is hard to work with people who believe that elections are determined by the Lord’s will, that (at one and the same time) politics is unimportant and the government is plunging us into a moral abyss ... the list goes on. Heavy-duty religionists can be so focused on God that they forget about their earthly obligations. It’s so much easier to just go to church and your kids’ ballgames. I read that there were some evangelical Bush volunteers who were brought up from Texas to Ohio or another swing state in ’04. A couple of days before the election, on Halloween, they ditched the volunteer work because they had to be home with their kids. It’s very hard for me to see this happening 30-40 years ago with volunteers who had fought, or whose men had fought, in World War II.

Many of these people need a spine transplant.

Most Christians I know, and I know plenty, do not celebrate Halloween, so I doubt your story, True Right. However, I would also mention that there are Christians who are not involved in politics on principle. Some churches tell their parishioners not to vote, not to be "of this world." They do not forget; they opt out completely. The Amish are an extreme example of this, but some Mennonite sects and some Baptist churches and God only knows who else,(I have seen whole churches turn on this point over a matter of years) also will vote only when they see some extreme threat to their way of life. The church that houses my daughter’s school is Quaker and while they are socially conservative, they won’t vote for anyone in favor of war, trusting to missionaries to convert the world. I do not get it, but also think it takes a whole LOT of spine to trust that God will handle your elections (and terrorists) for you. Since when do you, in practical terms, so trust your own neighbors much less the wide world, is what I ask them.

Other churches are VERY involved in politics, so as to risk their tax-exempt status with the distribution of political literature and sermons that are just this side of political endorsements. The people in these churches can be on the right OR the left, depending on theology and their particular social concerns. The Republican party has benefited, politically, in Christian circles from a fear of the real looniness of the left-wing of the Democratic Party and the sort of things dain mentions. However, I KNOW many Christians on the right who dislike being taken for granted by GOP politicians who woo them like crazy at election time (especially during the primaries) and then do not address their concerns again till the next campaign. These are the sort who eventually run off to a Perot or Buchanan because they are "taking a stand" and ignore the howls of the rest of us about wasted votes and a relative advantage.

It is not an easy thing as this is America and even within churches people are given to opinion and do what they like. "Herding cats" is apropos because there is nothing like homogeneity in what we call the church. The evangelicals mentioned in the article above are not the whole of American Christianity, but is a large and varied group. Their concerns were always there, but Compassionate Conservatism has given them the hope that government can be harnessed to address their concerns. Which is to say, they get money for their projects. This gives them a common cause with some Democrats, as all of that hasn’t gone as smoothly with Republicans as they had hoped a few years ago.


Rick Warren & Co. begin to remind me of how Jimmy Carter sounded before his election to president. I voted for him back then as I worry Christians will vote for another such in a couple of years. Is there another such? I really hope not.

I don’t think we disagree that much, Kate. These people aren’t as well served by the party as they should be. And for many reasons, they’re a real problem.

It may be that the volunteers who walked away on Halloween weren’t serious Christians. I know that some such, silly though it seems to me, do avoid Halloween like the plague. But in any case, I think the general point applies. Far too many family-values people will give up no time at all, citing family reasons. As if the outcome of an election doesn’t have an impact on one’s family. Others will promise to show up to help in an election, and don’t.

Well, given the Right’s track record on Christian social issues, I’m not sure I blame them for withholding their time and effort. School prayer...nothing. Abortion...nothing. Pornography...nothing. I see some effort on the part of the GOP, but mostly just empty rhetoric...as if the Christian Right is the GOP’s mascot group. Hmmm....

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