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November 5, 2008

What Broader Agenda?

If anybody never sleeps, it's John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Green has been giving a series of conference calls with reporters on religion and the election results.

While there was a large surge in the minority Christian vote, early exit polls do not show much change in the white evangelical turnout. Several people, including Green, have been pointing to a broader agenda in the evangelical community, so I asked him why the results were similar to 2004. Here's part of what he said late last night.

"I think there's a lot of evidence that among certain elements of the community and many evangelical leaders there is this press to broaden the agenda. The initial numbers suggest that however important that maybe it didn't connect to the vote for many evangelicals.

"Now, there are at least two explanations that we'll have to sort out. One was that there was a lot of interest in the broader agenda but there was counter pressure on the social issues. Another possibility is that many of the elements of the new agenda the environment, international human rights, poverty, and so forth just didn't figure into presidential voting choices in this election.

"They may in the future, or they may be important when it comes to considering legislation that the new president may propose. I don't think we can take these numbers to say now the broadening of the agenda didn't happen, but it does suggest that whatever was going on it wasn't wired up to the vote in the way many evangelical leaders had hoped."

Comments

So in simpler, less-spun words, Mr. green was wrong.

Don't forget McC made a stupid, stupid, stupid VP choice. Intelligent women will NEVER accept SP.

I think the reason evangelicals didn't go to Obama in big numbers is that McCain (and the republicans in general) noticed the broader evangelical agenda and adjusted accordingly. Actually, I think McCain was already on board with environmental and poverty issues. He actually moved right by picking Palin and making evangelicals feel better about voting for him, even though, until a few years ago, he was avowedly pro-choice. Obama was just too pro-choice for many evangelicals to overcome. I think it was telling, however, since I remember many evangelicals saying that Bush's personal faith mattered more than his policy positions in 2004. Apparently that didn't matter for Obama, who was by far more explicit about his faith.