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Evangelicals in 2008

The WSJ’s Naomi Schaefer Riley interviews Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He can’t support Giuliani, could support Romney, and rather likes Fred Thompson.

"Evangelicals would be very happy if Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback or Duncan Hunter were the nominee, but the problem with those three guys is they don’t give any indication they can win." And he adds, "With Hillary Clinton looming on the horizon, electability is a very important issue."

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If Mr. Giuliani does somehow win the nomination, Mr. Land predicts that "you will see a drop in evangelical participation in the presidential election and in races below that." Sounding more like a preacher warning of a coming plague, Mr. Land says, "even if the alternative is Hillary," a lot of evangelicals will stay home.


Returning to his political wonk persona, Mr. Land notes that in 2006, about a quarter of voters identified as white evangelicals, and 70% of them voted for Republicans. The three quarters who didn’t identify as white evangelicals voted 61-37 for Democrats. Which means, according to Mr. Land, "that Republicans can’t win elections just with evangelicals, but without them, Republicans face a loss of apocalyptic proportions."

I’m not certain that I agree with the last point, as it assumes that no Republican could do better than GWB did with non-evangelical voters. Wouldn’t Giuliani do better than GWB with non-evangelicals, especially since evangelicals seem to be allergic to him? And doesn’t HRC have her own problems with folks other than evangelicals?

Discussions - 6 Comments

Just read this myself, and Land doesn't come off well in it. Appears arbitrary and irrational in drawing the line at Giuliani, although he does seem to include Newt in his no more than one divorce rule. This sort of political pontificating from an apparently well-enjewelled (lots of big rings) evangelical leader has become tiresome even to old allies. At any rate, the interview does RG no harm, and Joe is right that the South goes for RG over Hilary or Barack regardless.

Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani support the third-world invasion of the U.S. and thus are guilty of treason. I'd actively convince everyone I know to vote against them. I have signed the Conservative Exodus Project, and thus will only vote for REAL conservatives. http://www.conservativeexodusproject.com/

Evangelicals would be very happy if Mike Huckabee or Sam Brownback or Duncan Hunter were the nominee, but the problem with those three guys is they don’t give any indication they can win

There seems to be a lot of this type of mobius-strip logic going around. "We can't support X because the numbers indicate that he does not have much support." Of course, if you do support X then his numbers will change. People are trying to be too clever. They should just support the candidate they like best. This is not even the primary, let alone the actual election. We're talking pre-primary polls, for Gods sake.


Wouldn’t Giuliani do better than GWB with non-evangelicals, especially since evangelicals seem to be allergic to him?

Hard to say. This seems to assume that there are a significant numbers of voters who would vote Republican if only they had a fairly open atheist at the top of the ticket. I'm not sure that is the case. And Giuliani will lose other Republican constituencies besdes the evangelicals, such as the NRA types and the nationalists. The Giuliani wave looks like another example of what I mentioned - "we have to support him because everybody else is". Other than his supposed electability, his backers seem hard pressed to offer reasons to vote for him.


Land has one good point: that many evangelicals might stay home completely if Rudy is the nominee, thereby hurting Republican House and Senate candidates. However, he should be focused on the importance of beating the Democratic nominee, not trashing Giuliani and Romney, or promoting the evangelicals' delusions that they can control public policy. They will not increase their influence in the GOP by allowing a Democratic president to be elected, or by talking as if a Democratic president is acceptable.

My mistake: Land said Romney is OK. Give the man a point for that. But there are other evanglicals who can't accept him, and that's self-destructive.

They will not increase their influence in the GOP by allowing a Democratic president to be elected, or by talking as if a Democratic president is acceptable.

It's difficult to predict if this will increase their influence or not. I think its safe to say that it will not diminish it. At least as long as the GOP at least pays lip service to the notion of caring what its constituients want. It has been a while since its done that.

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