Patrick Hynes

At some point in the last eighteen months, a meme was born in the mainstream press that has, so far as I can tell, no basis in fact. According to this meme, politically active evangelical Christians are an "up for grabs" swing group of voters, many of whom are ripe for the Democrats’ picking.  

This bizarre idea was expressed most recently by Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post in May. Writes Marcus:

Democrats these days are a party on a mission that might sound impossible: to persuade evangelical Christian voters to consider converting -- to the Democratic Party.

Just as Republicans have worked, and to some extent succeeded, at peeling off some African American voters from the Democratic Party, evangelical voters are too big a part of the electorate (about a quarter) for one party simply to write off.

Democrats have a shot at luring some of them…

The facts do not back up this assertion. Marcus herself bases her argument on some pretty thin evidence. Apparently House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accepted an invitation to the opening of a new mega-church. Howard Dean appeared on the 700 Club (where he lied about what the Democratic Party platform says about gay marriage, by the way). And the founder of Redeem the Vote recently met with the leadership of the Democratic Leadership Council.

This is not the stuff of a groundswell.

President Bush, for example, has been "invited" to meet with Cindy Sheehan on several occasions on the issue of the Iraq War. Accepting the invitation would not win Mr. Bush the endorsement of MoveOn.org.

Elsewhere, Marcus gets her facts horribly jumbled. For example, she states:

And evangelical voters' growing dissatisfaction with President Bush doesn't appear to be trickling down into congressional races; in a recent Pew poll, 64 percent of evangelicals (compared with 41 percent of all voters) said they would vote for the Republican congressional candidate in November, about the same as in polls before the 2002 midterms.


Patrick Hynes

Patrick Hynes is the president of New Media Strategics, a blog relations consultancy. He is the proprietor of Ankle Biting Pundits and the author of In Defense of the Religious Right (Nelson Current).

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