The Hill shows the increases importance in reaching out to religious voters among Democratic candidates:
“In 2004 only one of the primary candidates had any staff member who was reaching out to religious constituencies and to voters,” said Amy Sullivan, one of the first liberal journalists to identify the importance of faith-driven voters to the future success of the Democratic Party, referring to one-time Democratic front-runner Howard Dean. “At this point it looks like perhaps not all but at least a majority of candidates in 2008 primary will have somebody on staff focused on religious outreach and religious strategy, and that’s a sea change in the space of four years.”
The article starts with Hillary Clinton hiring “Burns Strider, one of the Democratic Party’s leading strategists on winning over evangelicals and other values-driven voters” but gives other examples:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) joined conservative Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) to speak about AIDS two weeks ago before the congregation of the evangelical Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. Last week Congress passed legislation sponsored by Obama that would allow people in bankruptcy to give to charitable and religious organizations.
Josh Dubois, an aide in his Senate office, is heading Obama’s religious outreach.
Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), who is also contemplating running for the 2008 Democratic nomination, has been active, too. In September, he gave a speech on “service and faith” at the conservative Pepperdine University. He has tapped Shaun Casey, an associate professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, to advise him on religious outreach.
Kerry also recently held a dinner at his D.C. home with evangelical leaders and traveled out to California for a four-hour meeting with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, who wrote the bestseller, “The Purpose-Driven Life.”
They note states where the Democrats were successful in 2006, including here in Michigan:
In Michigan, Gov. Jennifer Granholm won 35 percent of the evangelical vote, according to exit polls, a 25 percent increase in white evangelical support compared to the national average for Democrats. In Ohio, Gov.-elect Ted Strickland won 48 percent of white evangelicals who voted. In Pennsylvania, Sen.-elect Bob Casey Jr. won over 29 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of Catholics, despite running against Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a candidate well-known for his Catholic beliefs.
Hopefully this will be a short lived fad going into 2008, and afterwards more voters will realize that religion is a poor way to differentiate candidates. As long as the government stays out of religious issues and separation of Church and State is restored, voters have many potential areas of agreement and disagreement which are far more relevant to the actual activities of government.