Monday, November 10, 2008

Moderate evangelicals still won't vote Democrat

Something I've been interested in for some years now is this idea that Democrats can peel off a significant percentage of the moderate evangelical vote. So it behooves me to note that, nope, didn't happen this year either:
Born again Christians or evangelicals made up 36% of Bush vote and, by my count, 38.% of the McCain vote.

Some of that results from non-evangelicals -- Catholics in particular -- abandoning the Republicans while evangelicals mostly stayed put. But the Republican ticket actually drew two million more evangelicals in raw numbers than George Bush did, presumably because of excitement about Sarah Palin and extreme fear of Barack Obama.

Whatever the reason, some four million more evangelicals turned out this time than last, some going to Obama but most to McCain.
Luckily for me, I have always had a fallback argument on this matter, which is that there's a bankshot effect that comes from wooing moderate evangelicals. What I mean is that just the act of courting this group also projects a number of qualities that (non-evangelical) independent voters see as desirable -- moral seriousness, moderation, non-engagement on some of the culture-war issues.

At this point I suppose my fallback argument because my primary argument, because undoubtedly Obama assiduously courted this group, and they did not bite. Maybe Sarah Palin strongly appealed to them, or maybe they are simply unreachable by any Democratic presidential candidate. Either way, if Obama's performance is indicative of the potential for a bankshot effect, then Dems probably ought to keep right on reaching out anyway.

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