Larry Kudlow
Who would have thought that lying exit polls, socially conservative Democrats, and Evangelical Christians would have dwarfed traditional issues like national security and economic prosperity on Election Day 2004. But -- at the margin and in important ways -- the exit polls and the Evangelicals may have pushed President George W. Bush over the victory line.

The exit-polling phenomenon is a disgrace. Two companies, Edison Media Research and Mitofsky, did the polling for the Associated Press and the television networks. Their early results were devastating for Bush and his supporters -- in one case showing Pennsylvania down by 19 percentage points, which was a complete fiction. Elsewhere, these fraudulent forecasts showed Kerry winning handily in Florida and Ohio. A solid pro-Bush stock market rally immediately reversed on this alleged news., the online pay-for-play poll, shifted from a near 20-point Bush victory forecast to a 40-point Bush deficit estimate.

These were the same people who screwed up in 2000. Somewhere in the future this whole process must be completely changed, or even eliminated.

But wait. Could it be that these early phony returns, showing Bush going down in defeat, actually motivated some of his hardest-core supporters to get out and vote?

Though the established media outlets almost never talk about it, Bush?s core support group has all along been the born-again Christians. They make up roughly 40 percent of the American population. They are middle-class folk who go to church, read the Bible, and practice traditional virtues and values -- make that

religious values -- in their daily lives. They are married and tend to stay married. They are shopkeepers and small-business people. Many are stay-at-home self-employed. Others are salespeople who travel their regions as insurance brokers or financial planners or corporate product representatives. They drive SUVs. They shop at Wal-Mart and JCPenney. They are middle class.

Yes, and they believe in God -- as does their candidate George W. Bush. They also believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. And as befits the traditional nuclear family, they love their children and believe strongly in a child?s right to life.

In Ohio, which turned out to be Bush?s most important swing state after all, one-fourth of voters identified themselves as born-again Christians and they backed Bush by a 3-to-1 margin. These folks turned out heavily to support Ohio?s state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In fact, voters in 11 states approved constitutional amendments limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.