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New Analysis Confirms Complexity of Religious Vote

A new analysis of the religious vote in 2004 conducted by Steven Waldman and John Green and appearing on the beliefnet.com website, confirms and elaborates on trends noted by EDM authors Ruy Teixeira in his November 8th analysis and Alan Abramowitz in his November 6 post.

While conservative protestant evangelicals were the most visible religious supporters of George W Bush, Bush also obtained increased margins among a number of other groups that contributed as much or more to his overall margin of victory.

The results are important because they contradict the oversimplified “us vs. them” kinds of analyses that can lead Democrats to overestimate the significance of very conservative religious voters and to underestimate the importance of regaining the support of the more moderate.


How did Arabs and Muslims vote in 2004? In 2000 they were for Bush.

The "new analysis" article might be worth something if Waldman and Green had credited the source of all these percentages. The source is probably the NEP exit polls, which I have limited confidence in. Since the pre-election polling and exit polls had problems predicting the winner, I don't see why we should use them as a reliable source. Far better would be to extrapolate from the actual vote totals.

Are polling breakdowns available within white Protestant groups? For instance, I would guess Bush won white mainline Protestants by a few points. He won evangeliceal Protestants by a much larger margin. There are many moderate white mainline Protestants that might be sympathetic to Democrats on a variety of issues, and who would respond to the social justice language of faith, etc. Is there a place where can I find those numbers?

To judge from some letters to the editor in today's NYT, it seems as though some liberals are hearing pleas for Democrats to do a better job expressing our values as code for saying what we really need to do is chase the votes of conservative evangelical voters by moving to the right on abortion and gay and lesbian unions.

If that is what I was hearing I would be just as much opposed to it, as a craven, foolish and futile effort at me tooism, as these folks are.

But that isn't what I'm hearing. Rather I take the message of folks such as George Lakoff to be that we need to do a better job as progressives of communicating more clearly the values and aspirations that underly our approach to governing by aggressively, consciously, and consistently working at framing public debate on our terms.

Instead, Lakoff believes that our side too often tacitly accept the frames, and therefore the terms, of public debate put forth by conservatives, opposing on their linguistic and symbolic turf, as it were.

Lakoff's book Don't Think of an Elephant explains what he means by this. One doesn't have to buy into all aspects of his specific analysis, centered on the role of different metaphors of the family as underlying liberal vs. conservative worldviews, and concrete suggestions, to accept his broader point.