As the Presidential campaigns enter the final seven weeks before the election, it will be interesting to watch how evangelical Christians, Catholics, and other religious voters respond to the outreach efforts of both sides.


The Obama campaign has taken a page from political playbooks of the past and is now preparing to roll out “a new line of ‘faith merchandise’–the latest move in an ambitious effort to win over religious voters.” The items include “Believers for Barack, Pro-Family Pro-Obama, and Catholics for Obama buttons, bumper stickers and signs.”


On the Republican side, the selection of Governor Palin as the Vice Presidential nominee has energized many young evangelical Christians, a key group that both candidates are vying for. Here is what the Associated Press is reporting: “On the whole, evangelicals under 30 say Palin enthuses them because she’s a fresh face with a compelling family story, a reputation as a reformer and a champion of conservative moral values.” As one evangelical college freshman put it: “‘Palin is fresh and new, but she is also rock solid on issues like abortion. A lot of young evangelicals would have a hard time supporting Obama’ for his abortion rights stance.”


Young evangelical voters are viewed as being more open to voting for a Democratic candidate in this election than older evangelicals, according to the AP report: “A Pew survey last fall showed under-30 white evangelicals are increasingly up for grabs politically: 40 percent identified as Republican, down 15 percent from 2005. Most who abandoned the GOP were becoming independents, not Democrats.”


“‘I think the jury is still out on young evangelicals,’ said Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant magazine, an influential publication for this group. ‘Both parties have the opportunity to address issues of deep concern for this voting bloc.'” Strang had accepted an invitation to give an invocation at the Democratic National Convention but later declined over concerns that he would be viewed by young evangelicals as endorsing Obama.


The question of how effective Sen. Obama’s outreach to young evangelicals will be remains to be answered. When they look past the excitement and buzz of the Obama campaign, will young evangelicals really vote for an ardently pro-abortion candidate en masse? The answer to that question may help to decide the outcome of the election.


So Barry, what are your thoughts on the targeted outreach?

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