Based on the new Twelve Tribes study, there are three groups that hover in the middle: Whitebread Protestant, Moderate Evangelicals and Convertible Catholics. In some ways, they’re ripe targets for the Democrats in 2008: All of them have turned against the Iraq war, all of them care more about the economy than they used to, and two of them (Moderate Evangelicals and Convertible Catholics) have become more pro choice and more pro gay marriage.
However, all three have actually moved to the right on the critical issue of whether to have more government services. That would indicate that economic anxiety has led them to be more suspicious that bigger government would hurt rather than help them. Obama’s emphasis on tax cuts and McCain’s emphasis on cutting spending both would appeal to these groups.
In the survey, conducted by Prof. John Green of the University of Akron, respondents were asked whether they wanted to have fewer government services “and reduce spending accordingly” or the more services. The percentages saying they wanted fewer services and less spending:

  • Convertible Catholics: 2004: 26%, 2008: 38%
  • Whitebread Protestants: 2004: 31%, 2008: 37%
  • Moderate Evangelicals: 2004: 23%, 2008: 39%

These voters may harbor lingering doubts that a liberal Democrat from up north – an African American no less – will end up raising taxes to promote social programs.

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