Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Round-Up

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn't weigh in on the presidential election? So here are a few thoughts, and a few comments on other people's thoughts.

First, here's Noam Schieber from The New Republic:

Per my piece from this morning and my previous post, here's an extremely telling piece of exit polling data from yesterday: Not only did Kerry win by an 86-13 margin among self-described liberals, he also won by a 55-45 margin among self-described moderates. So how'd Bush pull it off? He won 84-15 among self-described conservatives, and, more importantly, he made sure conservatives comprised a much bigger chunk of the electorate than they did in 2000. (Conservatives comprised about 34 percent of the electorate yesterday, versus 29 percent in 2000--a huge shift, raw numbers-wise.) Anyone anticipating a conciliatory second Bush term should stop and consider how much Bush owes his base.

When you go on to consider that exit polls have shown “moral values” to be the most important issue to a plurality of voters, it's not stretching things to say that it was religious conservatives who re-elected Bush.

And we're not talking about the sort of religion that coexists peacefully with science, reason and tolerance. We're talking about fundamentalism. The reason the South and lower Midwest are so solidly Republican has nothing to do with terrorism, or economics, or Social Security. It has everything to do with the large number of people in those states who will not vote for you unless you believe that human life begins at conception and that public policy should be set accordingly. Do you believe that homosexuals deserve something better than a mixture of pity and contempt? You just lost the South. Do you believe there's a moral distinction between a clump of embryonic stem-cells and a human being? There goes Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and several others.

I am often told that I shouldn't worry so much about the religious right. There are many people who assure me that, actually, they are a small minority of religious people generally and that mainstream religious people are far more moderate and reasonable. I wish those people would get their heads out of the sand and stop being so naive. Moderate churches have been hemorraging members for a decade. Conservative churches are growing by leaps and bounds. Fundamentalists and evangelicals are the mainstream in American religious life. It is the moderates who should be regarded as being on the fringe.


At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When you go on to consider that exit polls have shown “moral values” to be the most important issue to a plurality of voters, it's not stretching things to say that it was religious conservatives who re-elected Bush."

This meme has certainly been making the rounds. Two comments: first, a little less faith in exit polls is warranted, and secondly, how about looking at all the data? The exit polls for the afternoon of 11/2/04 EST showing a huge majority of votes for Kerry didn't pan out. In addition, the "moral values" issue scored 22%, while the next two, Iraq and domestic economics, scored 20% and 19%, respectively. Given the inherent, and proven, fallibilities of exit polling, it seems that the "most important issue" is most likely a multi-part tie. Claiming that religious bigots swayed the election reveals much more about the claimer than about the election.


At 10:49 AM, Blogger Jason said...

The idea that reliious conservatives swayed the election is based on a lot more than just exit polling. It is also based on the fact that polls have shown that large numbers of seniors and Blacks supported Bush because of their concern for social issues. There is also the fact that turnout among evangelical voters was markedly up this year, and the fact that Bush made these issues such an important part of the campaign. We can also look at the fact that so many hard-right wing senators like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn were able to get elected.

So I think my conclusion tht religious conservative swayed the election is well justified. But I do wish you would clarify you rlast sentence. What, exactly, does it say about the person making the claim? And are you agreeing with the critics I mentioned in my post who say that I worry too much about the religious right?


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