03 November, 2004

Voting one's religious values

To begin with, I think we should thank John Kerry for making the following obsevation in his concession speech:

In America, it is vital that every vote count and every vote be counted, but the outcome should be decided by voters and not by a protracted legal process. (emphasis added)
Hopefully this will put an end to the awful legacy of 2000, where one party seriously believed that their lawyers could pry the election away from cold, hard, inconvenient facts.

I want to point to CNN's exit polls on how religious values influenced the election. I don't know how well these exit polls can be trusted: exit polls caused a number of pollsters to predict a huge margin of victory for Kerry. To my knowledge, the worst example was Zogby's organization. This is atypical for Zogby; they were highly accurate on the last two elections, but yesterday their web page predicted Kerry would win 311 electoral votes. Ouch!

The Catholic Vote
According to this web page at CNN, Catholics swung heavily towards Bush. He gained 5% compared to 2000, defeating Kerry 52%-47%.

Read that again: 52%-47%.

This, despite Kerry's being Catholic — and not just Catholic, but the sort of secular, progressive Catholics that we're all supposed to be, post-JFK.

This, despite an impressive attempt by certain groups in the Catholic Church to misinform Catholics on where Kerry stood with respect to the Catholic faith.

This, despite a massive tut-tut by secularists in the United States when some Catholics questioned whether Kerry should even be receiving communion.

This, despite the fact that the Vatican strenuously opposed the war in Iraq, and one cardinal (who shall remain nameless), upon seeing Saddam Hussein being searched for lice and fleas by an American doctor after his capture, seemed to sympathize more with the murderous dictator than with his victims.

(To the Vatican's credit, they have been very pro-active since April 2003 on Iraq, saying that the West cannot abandon the people of Iraq now that they are the focus of jihadists' brutality.)

Non-Catholics' Vote
Protestants and Jews also swung towards Bush: +3% and +6%, respectively.

Church Attendance
Those who attended religious services more than once a week voted overwhelmingly for Bush: 64%-35%. Weekly: 58%-41%. It only becomes a statistical tie when you consider people who attend religious services monthly: 50%-49%. From then on, Kerry has the lead, but apparently most American voters lie in the category of frequent attendance.

(Note: this scares most Europeans, who believe that their culture left religious ignorance behind during the Enlightenment. They view us as a creeping theocracy, and Bush as a religious nut who, by his wars in the Middle East, wants to precipitate Jesus' Second Coming. I am not making this up; they actually believe and write such things seriously. You wonder why foreigners tell us Americans that our press doesn't tell us the whole truth? If these are the European newspapers, imagine the Chinese newspapers, the Arab newspapers, ...)

What is the most important issue?
Moral values has a plurality, with 22%. Nobody on the left or center saw this coming, except maybe Howard Dean, although, IMHO, he has it only half-right (more on that later). Voters who prized moral values were overwhelmingly Bush, and they constituted 17.6% of the total polled. It is entirely reasonable to argue that the Massachusetts Supreme Court (and, to a lesser extent, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) unwittingly handed the election to Bush.

The second largest issue was in Kerry's favor: the economy, at 20%. They handed Kerry 16% of the vote.

What does it all mean?
Derned if I know. I'll hazard this guess: if the culture continues to slouch towards Gomorrah, as Robert Bork would have us believe, then the Democrats need merely wait 10 or 20 years (or 50 or 100) and cultural values will put them in the majority — unless the Republicans also slouch Gomorrahwards. (They do show occasional signs of this.)

Alternately, the Democratic party could give up its litmus test on judges who fall exclusively to one side of socially divisive issues. Think here not only of their vicious assault on Robert Bork, but also of Robert Casey, the Pennsylvania governor who was not allowed to speak at the Democratic convention because of his pro-life views.

Now: which of these scenarios do you think is more likely to play out?

I'll note one last thing: if the culture really is slouching towards Gomorrah, those of us who vote according to moral values (I include myself among them) need to think hard about whether we are fighting a futile rear-guard action. Religion has very, very bad press among secularists. We need to find ways to counteract that, which means we must do more than vote Republican. (Indeed, in some cases we must not vote Republican.)

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