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Christian Turnout Will Be Big in 2016 Elections

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Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 12:11 PM Current | Bio | Archive

After two successive presidential election years in which participation by Christian voters was less than impressive, some are predicting 2016 to be huge for turnout.

“The issues are there and the voters are there,” Paul Caprio, director of the Chicago-based One Nation under God Foundation, told me, but quickly added that “the Republican Party and the Republican candidates must embrace both of them.”

Caprio is about to unveil the “Religious Freedom Project,” an ambitious undertaking which seeks to reach out to, in his words, “180,000 Christian churches nationwide with the goal of participation by 6 million more Christian voters in 2016 than in 2012.”

The major difference between today and four years ago, he believes, are issues that affect Christians. According to Caprio, “there are four key issues that are now, in a bigger way than before, motivating Christians to vote: religious freedom, and a growing belief government is its prime enemy; Islamic terrorism, and we certainly see its ugly side in the videos of beheadings; the attack upon traditional marriage; and the pro-life cause."

In emphasizing that the goal of registering new voters was under the aegis of a “501c3 foundation that is fully tax deductible,” Caprio discussed the condition of the Republican Party wearing his hat as director of Family PAC Federal and Family PAC Illinois (which assist in the elections of conservative candidates).

“Just over 50 percent of Christian voters turned out for the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections and that was a problem for the Republican candidates in those years,” he said. “There was quite a lot of down-voting [skipping the presidential race on the ballot but voting for candidates for lower office] because of Mitt Romney’s support of Romneycare, de-emphasis on the social issues, and, in some cases, his [Mormon] faith."

“It’s not me — I believe an informed citizen should vote on the candidate who’s closest to your views, but that candidate doesn’t have to be everything you like. But [Romney’s Mormon faith] was a problem among a certain minority,” he added.

A far more important reason for Christian voters not participating in 2012, said Caprio, “was that the Republican candidate failed to take strong stands on issues of importance to them. He did utter the word ‘pro-life’ in his acceptance speech at the national convention and he did say he was for traditional marriage. But that’s about it.”

The same was true of John McCain in 2008, he added.

A conservative activist beginning in his Young Republican days nearly a half-century ago, Caprio believes the Republican Party of today “lives in a world of its own. They aren’t comfortable in a coalition with Christian activists.”

He noted that when the Republican National Committee commissioned its postmortem on the 2012 Republican election known as the “Growth and Opportunity Report,” “the group that wrote it included no one from the Christian leadership, despite the fact that evangelical Christians comprise 43 percent of the party’s base.”

Caprio contrasted this attitude within the party with that during the time of Ronald Reagan, “who won two terms by presenting a clean contrast with Democrats on social issues, and George W. Bush, who did the same. This was particularly true in 2004, when grass-roots activists helping to enact a measure codifying traditional marriage in Ohio were key to Bush narrowly carrying the state’s electoral votes. Had they gone the other way, John Kerry would have been president.”

Caprio recalled a conversation in 1987 with the late Paul Weyrich, considered one of the fathers of Christian involvement in politics, in which he said, “We won the politics but we lost the culture.”

“History would appear to have proven him right,” said Caprio, “Now we have to motivate voters to come back and reclaim the culture.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

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After two successive presidential election years in which participation by Christian voters was less than impressive, some are predicting 2016 to be huge for turnout.
christian, 2016, president
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2015-11-31
Thursday, 31 Dec 2015 12:11 PM
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