Monday, May 12, 2008

The Evangelical Base is Cracking

Many wondered, given his lack of popularity with the Christian conservative base, what a McCain nomination would do the Republican party. We are starting to get an answer.

"According to a September 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 15 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 29, a group traditionally a shoo-in for the GOP, say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. Older evangelicals are also questioning their traditional allegiance, but not at the same rate."

Young people are really the place to look for the direction of social change. As much as we'd like to think of our own open-mindedness and persuasiveness, minds change less and less as we get older. As one scientist put it "we make progress because old scientists die". Given the subjective nature of politics, it is even more so. So this is an ominous sign for the GOP, and even moreso when it doesn't seem to be all McCain's fault. The New Christians just don't relate to "old Christian Right" leaders like James Dobson as they once did, and have broader concerns like "AIDs in Africa, or poverty or social justice", or Iraq. They are also catching on to the way they have been played by politicians, "manipulated by those that know the game or use it as their sole agenda."

They also have not gone straight over to the Democrats. 2/3 of the defectors merely moved to the undecided column. There is also considerable skepticism of whether they will translate into votes for Obama given his record on issues like gay marriage and gun control. But in an election year where the Republicans have 20 incumbant senate seats in play to 4 for the Democrats, and where the general trend in the population is away from the Republicans (mostly to the middle), cracks in the base are hardly the order of the day. Keep your eye on the vice presidential nominees. If the Republicans don't get a bigger boom than the Democrats on that one, it is going to be a really long Fall for the GOP. They can't win if this attitude becomes a trend:

"I just keep thinking, if Jesus were alive now, he wouldn't necessarily be voting Republican"

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