It seemed like 2004 was a high water mark for evangelical influence. They loved President Bush and helped sweep him into victory.
Well guess what: evangelicals made up an even bigger part of the McCain vote than the Bush vote.
Born again Christians or evangelicals made up 36% of Bush vote and, by my count, 38.5% of the McCain vote.
Some of that results from non-evangelicals – Catholics in particular — abandoning the Republicans while evangelicals mostly stayed put. But the Republican ticket actually drew two million more evangelicals in raw numbers than George Bush did, presumably because of excitement about Sarah Palin and extreme fear of Barack Obama.
Whatever the reason, some four million more evangelicals turned out this time than last, some going to Obama but most to McCain.
This leaves many questions still open: Polls showed that Sarah Palin cost the ticket votes. Did the increase in evangelical voters she helped trigger make up for that? Since they represent such a key part of the Republican party will they have more clout going forward? Or will they be blamed for the loss and have less power?
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About Steve Waldman
- Safe, Legal & Early: A New Way of Thinking About abortion
- A Modest Proposal: Conservatives Back Gay Marriage; Gays Back Covenant Marriage
- The Rick Warren Interview
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- Science & Religion Dispatched from Cambridge
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