Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Surprising survey shows Democrats breaking through to born again Christians

A surprising survey out today shows that if the general election were held today, Democrats would stand a better chance than Republicans to pick up the majority of born again Christian voters. (Let’s take a moment to reflect on this moment of irony, talking about the general election before “Suppah Tuesday” even wraps up.)

Now let’s not run outside to see if the sky is falling. Yes, the survey (conducted by The Barna Group) shows a generic win for Democrats, with an “unknown Democrat” taking 40 percent of the vote compared to an “unknown Republican” at 29 percent. This discrepancy is likely to do with the fact that neither side has settled on a candidate.

But that said, and pardon the pun, but holy moly! This is huge news for Democrats, and shows that the work they’ve done since 2004 to woo religious voters is really working. Sure, this gap will narrow. But it’s safe to say that religious voters are up for grabs in 2008. Or as George Barna, head of the Barna Group says, “Evangelical s are clearly sending a message to Republican leaders this time around. There is tremendous frustration among evangelical voters, in particular … given the stands of some of the leading Republican contenders, evangelicals are registering their discomfort with the choices they have at hand.”

Echoing the Barna Group study, a new poll out from GodTube.com  (yes, I’m not making that up…there really is a GodTube, and if you go there, prepared to be treated to some Christian rock!), showed that Christian voters currently favor Democrats over Republicans. Their new poll found that 43.9 percent of Christian voters support the leading two Democratic candidates while 34.7 percent back Republican candidate Mike Huckabee.


Tags: , , , ,  , ,

How evangelical is West Virginia? Ask Mitt Romney.

Well, Super Tuesday is only a few hours old, but already my favorite sneak attack has happened, courtesy of the McCain campaign. According to Christianity Today.com, McCain asked his West Virginia supporters to switch their vote to Huckabee after the first round of caucusing, selling Mitt Romney out to dry.

Huckabee is almost a natural fit for West Virginia, given that 44 percent of the state supposedly identifies as evangelical.   But Romney made a significant play there in the past few days, hoping to pull together a West Virginia, Georgia, Utah and California win. (I bet that’s the first time those states were lumped together!)

Smart move by McCain. Bad luck for Romney. Huckabee, ever now the token candidate, gets a state.


Tags: , ,  , ,  , , , , ,

Young Christian voters show disconnect with religious right

RELEVANT magazine just released a poll of Christian voters between the ages of 18-34, and the results…well  , they may surprise you.

Now, I think it’s best to take polls with a huge grain of salt. Or perhaps a hallucinogen ic substance. But if the results of the RELEVANT magazine survey are to be taken at face value, they show a remarkable disconnect between the political concerns of young Christian voters, and the political agendas being set by Focus on the Family, Club for Growth, the Christian Coalition and the like.

Among the more surprising results:

  • When asked WWJVF (”Who Would Jesus Vote For”), 28 percent said Sen. Barack Obama, compared to 24 percent who said Gov. Mike Huckabee.
  • When asked whether they thought the U.S. should have universal health care, 59 percent said yes.
  • When asked whether churches should be able to support candidates, 62 percent said no.
  • For those who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, 33 percent said that if they had to do it over again, they would change their vote.

There are more results here, and also a press release about the poll posted here. The spin? Well, according to RELEVANT co-founder and publisher Cameron Strang, “Young Christians simply don’t seem to feel a connection to the traditional religious right. Many differ strongly on domestic policy issues, namely issues that affect the poor, and are dissatisfied with America’s foreign policy and war. In general, we’re seeing that twentysometh ing Christians hold strongly to conservative moral values, but at the same time don’t feel that their personal moral beliefs need to be legislated to people who don’t agree with them. It’s an interesting paradox, and is creating clear division between this generation and the religious right.”

Does this spell the end of groups like Focus or the Christian Coalition? Certainly not. But if these results are real, it does prove that the influence these groups once had in influencing religious voters might be on the wane, making way for a little common sense and tolerance.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Great Perplexity for Catholic Voters

New Hampshire polls close in just a few hours, but in the build-up to today’s primary, Manchester’s Catholic Bishop John B. McCormack gave an insightful quote that hints at the proverbial wall that many Catholics all over the country will be beating their heads against in the struggle to determine how to cast their vote. “Some candidates advance proposals that fail to mirror the commitment of the church to the protection of all human life. In many cases, these same candidates advance other policies and proposals that can be supported in light of church teaching. This frequent mixture of laudable and unacceptable positions causes great perplexity,” said Bishop McCormack.

What’s a Catholic to do when (1) it’s a moral responsibili ty to vote, (2) it’s a moral responsibili ty to vote for the candidate who best espouses the Church’s moral teachings, particularly on respecting life, and (3) no candidate on either side of the political aisle fits into the “perfect” mold of the Church’s moral teachings?

Now that’s a dilemma. Thank God I belong to the United Church of Christ now.

The battle for the Catholic vote will likely rev up in the coming weeks and months, as we get out of primary election mode and into general election hysteria. Who knows what lurks in the hearts (or empty vessels they pretend are hearts!) of political operatives and pollsters this year in terms of nabbing the Catholic vote. One thing is almost for certain: the right is going to argue that Democrats are unsuitable because of issues like abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, and gay marriage. The left is going to argue that Republicans are unsuitable because of issues like poverty, immigration, health care, education, and most importantly, war. Who’s right?

Well, if you look at what the institutiona l Church (i.e. The Catholic Bishops Conference) has said, here’s their take on the number one issue that should inform a Catholic voter’s conscience in 2008 (quoted directly from Faithful Citizenship, released every Presidential Election season by the Bishops):


The right to life and the dignity of the human person.
Human life is sacred. Direct attacks on innocent human beings are never morally acceptable. Within our own society, life is under direct attack from abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, and the destruction of human embryos for research. These intrinsic evils must always be opposed. This teaching also compels us as Catholics to oppose genocide, torture, unjust war, and the unnecessary use of the death penalty, as well as to pursue peace and help overcome poverty, racism, and other conditions that demean human life.

Talk about triangulatio n! Did Mark Penn write this for the bishops?

Whether it’s McCain, Romney, Giuliani or Huckabee who ends up the eventual GOP nominee, clearly they don’t fit the bill given their records on issues like war, the death penalty, and torture (particularl y Romney, who wouldn’t rule out using waterboardin g as an interrogatio n technique). And that’s not a liberal Massachusett s blogger saying this…that’s the institutiona l Catholic Church.

On the Dem side, it gets trickier. Sure, you can argue (like the right will) that Obama and Clinton support abortion rights and support stem cell research, thus Catholics in good conscience shouldn’t vote for them. But when you peel back the layers of these complex issues, particularly abortion, and start to look at which party’s platform might actually lead to a reduction in abortion rates and teen pregnancy rates because of how it handles issues like economic justice, poverty, health care, and education, the waters get much muddier. That’s because Obama’s and Clinton’s principles seem to line up more with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching than, say, a war hawk, someone who wants to jail clergy for feeding illegal immigrants, those who would execute entire populations of prisoners, and those who would condone torture.

So the great perplexity for Catholic Voters, and Bishop McCormack put it, might just be turning away from the rants and raves of Bill Donohue, Phyllis Schlafly, Deal Hudson and others who would sabotage Catholic Social Teaching to fit their own political sympathies, and looking more deeply at the moral teachings of the Church.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mike Huckabee’s cat and mouse game

As the cult of Mike Huckabee continues to grow, both nationally and across the state of Iowa, his cat and mouse game on religion is stepping up. Case in point, this AP article, “Huckabee Bristles at Creationism Query.”

Huckabee has sought time and again to portray himself as a Christian candidate. His advertisemen t in Iowa features big, blocky letters that pan “Christian Candidate” across the screen. He’s received the endorsement from Tim LaHaye, one of the co-authors of the “Left Behind” series (compulsory evangelical lit). His campaign Web site uses the alliterate trifecta of “Faith. Family. Freedom.” And he just recently received the endorsement of Chuck Hurley, an influential conservative activist in Iowa who was backing former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, before Brownback dropped out of the race.

Yet as The Incredible Huck is continually asked about his faith, he’s playfully getting irritated. Case in point in the news article above; Huckabee is asked whether he thinks creationism should be taught in public schools, and he responds “Why the fascination with my beliefs?”

At the risk of stating the obvious, Mr. Huckabee, the fascination with your beliefs is not only your own doing, but it’s the reason you’re up in Iowa. The more you’re identified as a Christian candidate, the more Mitt Romney looks like he believes that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri. (Oh wait. He does.)

This is why Huckabee can play the cat and mouse game. He can say, “Look, stop focusing on my beliefs,” while still getting the message out there that what he believes is on target with the vast majority of GOP caucus-goers in Iowa. It’s like the reverse of a Catch-22. Whether he makes religion his focal point, or whether he chafes at religion being the focal point, Huckabee benefits.

Which begs the question: If Mitt Romney has millions and millions of dollars to pay political consultants, why the hell did none of them see this coming?

This caucus is Mike Huckabee’s to lose. And as Jet Netwal pointed out earlier on this site, that means we’re all in trouble.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Romney gives the faith speech

Many of Mitt Romney’s advisers have been on him for months now to address his religion, but it likely took a new poll out by the Des Moines Register showing him five points behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, that has Romney ready to give his John F. Kennedy speech on religion. Ala Kennedy and his Catholicism in 1960, Romney is preparing to talk about his faith - Mormonism - for the first time this Election season.

Despite the endorsements of many prominent Christian conservative s, including Bob Jones, Paul Weyrich, and David Keene, Romney is still perceived as having problems resonating in socially conservative circles, especially among evangelicals . This could be one of the reasons, if not the reason, his support is slipping in places like Iowa, where the Republican caucus is dominated by social conservative s. Seems like most of these folks are jumping ship to Mike Huckabee, 30 days before the caucus. Being the nerd that I am, I watched a town hall on C-SPAN tonight with Romney, and sure enough, three of the questions from caucus-goers referenced Mike Huckabee.

And that’s the story line here. While there’s some historical relevance to Romney, one of the first Mormons to be competitive in a Presidential race, giving a speech about his faith, the talk smacks of inauthentici ty. Romney has been running for President for more than a year now, and he’s resisted talking about his faith at all costs. All of a sudden he finds himself slipping in the polls to Huckabee, and he decides to give a national talk on “Faith in America.”

Romney’s campaign is saying that the address will be a chance for Mitt to “share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected.” But the underlying reason is that Romney’s being schooled by Huckabee in Iowa, and needs to respond.


Tags: , , , , ,  , , , , ,

The religious right’s threat of a third-party candidacy

Here’s a poll: How many of you think all the major GOP presidential candidates are sweating buckets right now that leaders of the religious right suggested they may back a third-party Presidential candidate in 2008, due to less than enthusiastic support for the current crop of candidates?

Giuliani’s camp fought back by pumping the media with stories about how the GOP has “to have a candidate that can run in all 50 states,” and arguing that he’s the only Republican contender who can do so.

McCain’s camp arranged for him to give an interview to Beliefnet, where he slandered Islam and suggested that he’d only be comfortable with a Christian president.

Thompson’s been trying to thwart attention from his religion to his tax proposal, in hopes of convincing the religious right to vote with their pocketbooks instead of their bibles.

Huckabee issued a statement saying that a third-party backed candidate would hand Hillary Clinton the election.

And this past weekend, the Boston Globe reported that Romney is doubling his efforts to lure the support of the religious right, by asking Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family (the media’s anointed leader of the religious right) to take a second look at his candidacy.

At that’s just the news from the past few days. My god, I don’t even know if the children of Elm Street were this afraid when they went to sleep!

The truth is that Huckabee is probably right. A third-party candidate would handicap the race for Democrats, splintering the coalition of the willing comprised of social conservative s and fiscal conservative s. All of the leading GOP candidates know this, and my guess is that all of them have the head of James Dobson on a dartboard in their war rooms. Imagine having to kiss Dobson’s ass just so he doesn’t pull behind a rogue candidacy?

It’s kind of like the last season of The West Wing playing out in real time. Remember how Alan Alda’s character had to placate the religious right?

Though Tuesday’s Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan is meant to focus on economic issues, I’ll be curious how the candidates work in some religious right talking points to kabash the growing story line that the moral majority is magnificentl y dissatisfied with this bunch. Stay tuned.

(Note: For those who may be interested, I hold a soft spot in my heart for Dearborn, MI. It’s where I tried out for Jeopardy back in 2005. I didn’t make it, but I can hardly hold that against Dearborn. I blame it on Jeopardy’s penchant for asking too many damn opera questions.)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Fish.Travel