weekly%20standard.jpgGod-o-Meter has argued more than once that despite his success winning enough evangelical votes to shore up the GOP nomination, John McCain will have a much tougher time mobilizing tens of thousands of religious conservatives–the ones who provided George W. Bush with vital organizing muscle in 2004–come November. The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes feels the same way:

Even a united Republican party will be at a disadvantage in the general election. Democratic primary turnout has doubled from 2004, reflecting a level of enthusiasm among Democrats that hasn’t been seen for decades. And the party has the money to fund another massive get-out-the-vote drive this November. In 2004, it took an unprecedented effort by 1.4 million Republican volunteers to overcome the Democratic turnout machine manned by paid campaign workers.
The key to the 2004 success was the passionate commitment of these volunteers to reelecting George W. Bush. These weren’t moderates or independents or McCainiacs. They were hardcore conservatives–and particularly social conservatives attracted by Bush’s opposition to abortion, gay rights, and embryonic stem cell research.
McCain needs to attract hundreds of thousands of these Republicans as ground troops for his campaign. He’s off to a good start. In a new TV ad dubbed “True Conservative,” he refers to himself as “a proud social conservative who will never waver.” He’s expected to get the endorsement soon of the National Right to Life Committee, the influential anti-abortion group, and that will help.
But he’s got a long ways to go. Bush spent five years courting social conservatives before his first presidential run. Despite a strong pro-life voting record in the Senate, McCain has never been a favorite of social conservatives, nor has he tried to be. He has an opportunity to embrace them publicly this week when he addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. He should seize it.


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