With Election Day finally having come and gone, God-o-Meter is closing up shop till 2012–or at least 2010. Till then, get your faith and politics fix over at Beliefnet editor-in-chief Steve Waldman’s blog.
The Brody File has the scoop on a new faith tour the Obama campaign is launching next week. Reprising a strategy that Obama and Hillary Clinton began experimenting with in the primaries last year, the tour will feature religious figures, scholars, and politicians:
Some of those high profile figures include Former Indiana Congressman and pro-life Democrat Tim Roemer, Catholic legal scholar Doug Kmiec, and author Donald Miller. You can also expect a soon to be named Evangelical North Carolina (red state) Congressman to travel the country as well. All of these surrogates are well versed and comfortable talking faith and politics. This is clearly a sign by the Obama campaign that they plan to target red state and swing state moderates.
A campaign official tells me the tour is designed to feature the “strong faith and values” of both Barack Obama and running mate Joe Biden. Issues will range from healthcare to poverty to the economy to climate change to yes, even abortion. The campaign understands tough questions may come their way but they’re ready with an answer of how they can reduce abortions.
While conservative Evangelicals have flocked to Palin, the Obama campaign is targeting voters from so many of the other faith traditions. The Brody File has been told that even with Palin now in the race, the Obama campaign’s internal faith polling shows them to be doing better than expected with other denominations besides conservative Evangelicals.
For example, they have their sites on places like Ohio which is home to roughly 500,000 United Methodists alone.
This tour will last about a month or so and will be in a town hall format where these speakers and others will give their talks in community centers and gyms and then take questions afterwards.
Among the states on the list are Colorado Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin. Remember, the Obama campaign believes the White Catholic vote is very much in play especially in places like Pennsylvania. Plus, while conservative Evangelicals are not going to head Obama’s way, the campaign believes they can win over those moderate and liberal Evangelicals, Catholics and even some conservative mainline Protestants.
When Obama and Clinton tried this last year, the idea of them winning in red stats like North Carolina and Indiana, which went for George W. Bush by 15-percent or more in 2004, seemed far fetched. Not so anymore.
Interesting to note that new polling suggests that Obama’s surge in the red state comes in spite of McCain’s strong performance among white evangelicals. The Illinois senator is benefitting from strong support in cities, among young voters, blacks, and women. A new national poll actually shows McCain with a 71 – 21 percent lead among white evangelicals, up from 65 – 25 percent around a month ago.
That leads God-o-Meter to wonder: is Obama’s surge in the red states among certain demographics–women, for instance–due in part to his evangelical outreach making non-evangelicals more comfortable with him? It’s like of like Republicans appealing to African American voters to make white suburbanites more comfortable with backing the GOP. According to this theory, non-evangelicals like Obama’s faith- and evangelical-friendliness, even if their not very religious themselves.