October 27, 2012

VALUES, NOT THEOLOGY:

Evangelical support grows for Romney : Overcoming concerns about Romney's Mormon faith, conservative white Christians, buoyed by a massive outreach effort, get behind the GOP challenger. (Mitchell Landsberg, 10/25/12, Los Angeles Times)

"It's our belief that the great irony of this election will be [that] you'll have the first ticket without a Protestant on it, and that ticket will get the highest support by evangelical voters of any ticket in history," said Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition. "That's going to be the great irony -- supporting a Mormon-Catholic ticket at record levels, and I think that's already showing up in the polling data."

Marx may be a bit premature. As of early October, Romney was ahead of President Obama among white evangelical Protestants, 73% to 21%, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That is the same percentage that Republican John McCain captured among white evangelicals in 2008, but below the 79% that President George W. Bush, a self-described born-again Christian, received in 2004.

However, some undecided voters will undoubtedly swing behind Romney, and the Pew poll was conducted before most of his post-debate bump in the polls. So Marx's prediction is not out of the realm of possibility. Just as important as the percentage of evangelicals who vote for Romney is the number who turn out to vote at all -- especially in key swing states where they are a significant force, such as Colorado, Iowa and Ohio.

Here again, Republicans and leading evangelicals say they are optimistic that the turnout will be high.

If so, it will be no accident.

A vast effort has gone into selling Romney to conservative evangelicals, led in part by Marx and his boss, Faith and Freedom founder Ralph Reed, and by such figures as Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, and DeMoss, an evangelical publicist who has served as an unofficial liaison between Romney and the evangelical community since before the 2008 presidential campaign.

"A number of us have been trying to shift the conversation from theology to values," DeMoss said. "I'm more interested in a candidate who shares my values than if he or she shares my theology. And indeed, as an evangelical and a conservative, I have more in common with many Mormons than I would with a liberal Southern Baptist."

Posted by at October 27, 2012 11:04 AM
  

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