The unprecedented effort that Democrat Barack Obama put into courting the white churchgoing public has apparently failed, according to a new Gallup Poll.
The poll shows that Obama is backed by just 28 percent of white voters who attend church at least once a week — a group that makes up roughly a third of all voters. That’s actually one point less than John Kerry and Al Gore received during the previous two elections.
“There has been remarkably little change among whites in the religion gap,” John Green, of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, told Politico.
Evangelical bloggers and pro-life Web sites said they weren’t surprised by the findings.
“Obama has talked about reducing abortions, but the most active Catholic and evangelical voters didn't buy the rhetoric it appears,” wrote Steven Ertelt, an editor with Lifenews.com.
“They apparently got the message that Obama supports unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy, wants abortions paid for with taxpayer funds, and favors a bill that would overturn pro-life laws and measures that reduce abortions nationwide,” Ertelt wrote.
Obama’s inability to bridge this important fault line in American politics is especially notable because no Democratic nominee in the last 30 years has made more of an effort to court religious voters. Only Jimmy Carter, a Southern evangelical, has been able to contest the Republican hold on weekly church-going voters in a two-man race.
But in 1976, as the United States was still reeling from Vietnam and the 1960s culture wars, Carter actually de-emphasized his faith.
Four years later, the Reagan Revolution began and ever since, Republicans have held a strong lock on white evangelicals and church-going Catholics. The latest polls also indicate that Republican John McCain has gain supporters among young Jews, who in larger numbers describe themselves as religious compared to their elders.
Social conservatives told Politico and other Web sites that the event that crippled any chance of gains for Obama was the mid-August event at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif.
Asked when a fetus gains human rights, Obama said it was “above my pay grade” while McCain quickly replied, “At the moment of conception.”
For social conservative leader Richard Land, Obama’s response encapsulated why Democrats have failed to make inroads with highly religious white voters.
“It’s abortion,” Richard Land, a social conservative said after hearing the Gallup results. “I think pro-choice people in this culture have absolutely no idea of the depth and intensity of the moral outrage of the people who are pro-life. They think that conservatives use it only as a wedge issue.”
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