Efforts by the Faith & Freedom Coalition to educate pro-family voters in the lead-up to Tuesday's special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District were an important factor in Republican David Jolly winning the first key race of 2014.
"We built a file of 22.3 million evangelical Christians and faithful Roman Catholic voters nationwide," Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the group, told Newsmax.
In the 13th district, Reed said, "those are the voters we knocked on the doors of."
Coming at a time when many pundits and national political operatives say that abortion and other cultural issues are on the "back burner" in the upcoming midterm elections, the Faith & Freedom endeavor in the Florida election may well breathe new life into the pro-family cause this fall.
In meshing high-tech data with old-fashioned "shoe leather," Faith & Freedom made sure voters in the Clearwater-St. Petersburg area district were informed on where Jolly and his Democratic opponent Alex Sink stood on social issues that are important to the pro-family community.
"Our people worked hard, knocking on thousands of doors and making thousands of voter calls," said Regina Brown, state field director for the Florida chapter and leader of the volunteer effort in the special election. "We wanted to make sure Christians were educated on where the candidates stood and that they went to the polls."
The group's 10,000 phone calls to voters and 5,000 door-to-door visits in the district were enabled by the use of its proprietary VoterTrak software tools.
VoterTrak "enabled volunteers to contact voters using prequalifying criteria such as issue burdens, demographic information, and data analytics," the group said.
In addition, Faith & Freedom deployed email, text-messaging, and social media to distribute voter guides to targeted voters of faith throughout the district that were viewed a total of 403,929 times.
The group's volunteers also deployed techniques that have personally reached voters in the past.
Faith & Freedom distributed 25,000 voter guides in evangelical and Roman Catholic churches, and mailed 22,000 pieces of candidate comparison mail.
Although Jolly, Sink, and Libertarian Lucas Overby primarily discussed Obamacare and local issues and did not highlight social issues in the campaign, all were questioned in interviews and public forums about abortion and other matters of interest to the pro-family community.
Echoing the national platforms of their party in one debate, Jolly made it clear he was pro-life on the issue of abortion while Sink said she supported a "woman's right to choose."
In an outcome that was called by the networks one hour after polls closed, Jolly won a close race over Sink by a margin of 48.5 percent to 46.6 percent, with 4.8 percent going to Overby.
"The eyes of the nation were on the 13th district of Florida [on Tuesday]," said Florida Faith & Freedom Chairman Jim Kallinger. "We believe 2014 will be a referendum on the failure of Obamacare. Combined with the persistent salience of social issues, it helped turn out a huge number of voters of faith in this special election."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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