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July 6, 2008

Can McCain Reach Must-Win Evangelicals?

McCain is reaching out to evangelicals, but is it working?

John McCain seems to be increasing his outreach to evangelicals, recently meeting with religious leaders in Ohio and making a publicized visit with Billy and Franklin Graham.

Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times believes that evangelicals are "flocking to [the] formerly 'unacceptable' candidate." About 100 religious conservatives met in Denver last week, many of whom decided to back McCain.

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Philip Elliott of the Associated Press isn't so sure. "So far, there's been scant sign that the Republican nominee-in-waiting is making inroads among these fervent believers," he writes.

"I don't know that McCain's campaign realizes they cannot win without evangelicals," David Domke, a professor of communication at the University of Washington told Elliot. "What you see with McCain is just a real struggle to find his footing with evangelicals."

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News writes that the campaign has created Christian-outreach teams in 14 states and is scheduling private meetings with local evangelical leaders. The campaign also has a 1,000-person e-mail list of social conservative and national leaders with influence in local communities.

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Comments

I'd question whether Evangelicals really are a "must-win" block for this election. They seem pretty fragmented and troubled after eight years of being largely ignored by one of their own in the White House. Besides, unless gay marriage or abortion rear their ugly head again, most of the main issues in this campaign seem to be largely secular. I just don't think the Evangelical NGEs will be able to muster the turnout they have in the past two elections.