Analyzing what he calls “Obama’s Brilliant Ground Game” in today’s Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove draws plenty of parallels between the Illinois senator’s burgeoning organization and George W. Bush’s in 2000 and 2004. In revealing some trade secrets from those campaigns, Rove leaves out a one crucial ground game component: evangelicals. That word, or any variation thereof, doesn’t show up in his piece, even though Rove famously staked much of Bush’s reelection campaign on his attempt (largely successful) to turn out four million more evangelicals in 2004 than in 2000. Under the aegis of former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, the Bush ’04 campaign signed up hundreds of thousands of evangelical volunteers.
Does Rove believe evangelicals have been given too much credit for their role in reelecting Bush? Or does he think it would be bad form to cite the role evangelicals played in the Bush effort, lest he make them feel like they were “used” on the basis of their religion? Whatever the reason for Rove’s omission, one thing’s clear: it’s John McCain’s poor relations with the evangelical community that could be his biggest organizational disadvantage against the Obama get-out-the-vote juggernaut this fall.