They do just fine with avowed secularists, agnostics and atheists, but not with those who attend church or other religious services more regularly. A Pew Research Center poll showed that President Bush beat Kerry 64 percent to 35 percent among voters who attend church more than once a week and 58 percent to 41 percent among those who attend once a week. Those who attend just a few times a year favored Kerry 54 percent to 45 percent. But those who never attend favor Kerry 62 percent to 36 percent.
A later Pew survey had even worse news for Democrats. It revealed that only 29 percent of the respondents believed the Democratic Party is generally friendly toward religion (down from 40 percent in 2004), and 44 percent believed secular liberals have too much influence on the Democratic Party. It also showed that people believed, by a margin of 51 percent to 28 percent, that Republicans were more concerned with protecting religious values.
Apparently all that scripture John Kerry recited during the presidential campaign didn't work. Nor did Howard Dean's protestations that true evangelicals believe the government ought to radically redistribute wealth.
Nor did Reverend Jim Wallis's book, "God's Politics," in which he advised Democrats to recast their positions on issues to make them more appealing to "values voters."
Even the multiple seminars and retreats the Democrats have had to address their waning appeal to values voters have had little impact.
Perhaps sooner or later the Democratic Party will realize that their problem with "values voters" is not that they have failed to clearly articulate their message on values issues. It is that they have succeeded in communicating their positions, loudly and clearly, despite their efforts to obfuscate near election time.
The problem isn't that conservative Christians -- generally speaking -- don't understand where the left is coming from; it's that they do. They have expressed open contempt for certain traditional values, even though many Democrats are Christians, too.
It's not that Democrats don't have values voters, too. But those voters are -- generally speaking again -- motivated largely by a different set of values.
The Democrats' outreach to values voters isn't an appeal to voters who share their values -- they are already firmly in the Democratic base. It's a cynical ploy to semantically repackage their positions in terms designed to fool churchgoers (see the Pew Poll) into believing they are in their corner -- politically speaking.
Too bad these reputedly "poor, uneducated and easy to command" conservative Christians aren't so easy to command.