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    November 10, 2006

    New values for voters

    Posted by: Chris

    Jesus More evidence that the divisive agenda pushed by social conservatives may be less appealing now to the religious, "values voters" than a broader agenda that includes the environment and social justice issues. This from the Wall Street Journal:

    Exit polls suggest that Democrats made significant gains among several religious demographic groups, including both Catholics and evangelical Protestants. While the party's 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry won barely 20% of white evangelicals, for example, almost 30% voted Democratic this year. Democrats won the backing of 55% of Catholics this year, compared with 47% in 2004.

    Two years ago, conservative religious groups claimed credit for putting President Bush over the top in his tough re-election battle, and were rewarded with two conservative Supreme Court justices. Now, however, much of their political agenda and even a measure of their strength have crumbled with the loss of Republican control in the House, and probably in the Senate. …

    Democrats and their allies were touting the changes, saying they point to religious voters' growing concerns about the environment and social justice as well as traditional family values. If the theory holds, it could fundamentally reform the electoral landscape, particularly at the presidential level, Democrats believe. "When you look at...evangelical and these values-first voters, we made inroads there that probably even surprised Republicans," said party chairman Howard Dean. …

    They also pointed to an organized effort, particularly in Ohio, to address religious voters' concerns about social issues, such as ameliorating the effects of globalization. "It appears people are thinking more complexly about the issues," said Sister Simone Campbell, national coordinator of Network, a national Catholic social-justice lobby on Capitol Hill.

    In fact, there were independent signs that social concerns were catching fire with voters. Ballot initiatives across the country to raise the minimum wage were approved by lopsided margins. Environmentalists helped secure the defeat of Rep. Richard Pombo (R., Calif.), a friend to oil and mining interests. …

    Democrats and liberal activists held out hope that the changes evident in Tuesday's results, particularly those affecting religious voters, could translate into lasting gains. They predicted that wedge issues such as gay marriage would become less potent weapons for Republicans in the future, and that Democrats could attract enough white voters to prevail in future presidential elections.

    One reason the marriage issue is losing potency is that it's been pounded into submission in the states where it is most effective for Republicans as a wedge issue: 45 states either have statutes banning gay marriage or statutes and constitutional amendments. Having used belts and suspenders, how can they still claim gay marriage might leave us caught with our pants down?



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