Inside Election 2004: A Moral Mandate?
Most observers of the recent presidential election were surprised by the size of President Bush’s win as well as by the fact that “moral issues” (i.e., marriage, abortion, selection of God-fearing judges) ranked among the top reasons for voting. A very effective way to analyze the election is on the basis of voters’ religious convictions rather than on partisan or any other affiliations.
A Religious Divide Among Voters
A major reason that Republicans won the election decisively (retaining not only the presidency but also increasing their numbers in both the House and the Senate) was that their stands on Biblical and moral issues more closely coincided with those of the voters. In fact, polls before the election indicated that the best predictor of how an individual would vote was frequency of church attendance. As Washington Post writer Thomas Edsall noted: “Pollsters are finding that one of the best ways to discover whether a voter holds liberal or conservative value stands is to ask: How often do you go to church? Those who go often tend to be Republican, those who go rarely or not at all tend to be Democratic.” Election 2004 reinforced these findings.
In this election, 61% of Bush’s vote came from people from all faiths who attend services weekly (a group comprising 41% of the electorate); conversely, 62% of Kerry’s vote came from people who never attend worship (accounting for 14% of the electorate). In fact, many groups that voted more Republican in this election than in previous ones did so largely because of Republican stands on Biblical and moral issues.
Evangelical Voters: 23% of all votes cast were by evangelicals (i.e., 27.1 million votes). Bush received 78% of those votes (21.2 million), representing an amazing 35% of his total of 60.7 million votes. (In 2000, Bush received 10.7 million evangelical votes, representing 21% of his 50.5 million total votes.) Undoubtedly, one of the reasons that moral issues were of such importance in this year’s election was the 80% increase in the number of evangelical voters compared to the 2000 election.
Catholic Voters: While Catholics have long been considered a safe Democratic constituency, in this election, 52% of Catholic voters supported President Bush. Associated Press writer Richard Ostling noted: “The majority of Catholics preferred an anti-abortion Methodist incumbent to one of their own – underscoring that today’s religious divide cuts across denominational lines.”
Hispanic Voters: Hispanics, another traditional Democratic block, accounted for 7 million voters, or 12% of the total vote; President Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote (the largest share for a Republican since recording began in 1972). Biblical issues helped President Bush make significant gains among Hispanics. In Spanish-language media, Bush ran ads against abortion and homosexual marriage; and one Hispanic voter summed up the feeling of many when he explained, “I voted for Bush based on his moral stance. Bush is pro-life; I’m pro-life. He believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, and so do I.”
African American Voters: While African Americans continue to be the Democrats’ most loyal constituency, President Bush increased his share of the black vote from 8% in 2000 to 11% in this election. While that gain seems small, it was actually greater than it appears. In 2000, Bush received 864,000 votes from African Americans; in 2004, he received 1.45 million votes – a 70% increase in the actual number of individual African Americans voting for President Bush.
As suggested by columnist Gregory Kane of the Baltimore Sun, the cause for much of the African American increase in support for President Bush was his pro-life and pro-traditional marriage position. Just days after the election, Kane explained:
The first inkling I had that Sen. John Kerry would lose the Nov. 2 election came exactly a week before, when I participated in a telephone conference call that the Massachusetts senator had with about 350 black clergy. After former President Bill Clinton introduced him, Kerry told the group that the issue of gay marriage was a red herring. ‘I ask you not to be diverted from the real issue in this case.’ . . . As if blowing off the moral issue that would eventually cost him the election weren’t enough, we have to look at what else was wrong with the picture: when you’re telling clergy folks that things many Christians regard as sins don’t matter, you might not want an admitted philanderer to be the guy introducing you. Earlier in the campaign, Kerry shared a stage with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, another fella not yet bitten by the monogamy bug, who [also] said moral issues in Campaign 2004 were a diversion.”
African American voting in this election demonstrated a growing trend of choosing candidates because of their Biblical positions on moral issues.
Youth Voters: There were 4.6 million more youth voters (ages 18-29) in this election than in 2000. Although youth supported Kerry by a margin of 54% to 44%, the expected gains from “Rock the Vote,” “Vote for Change,” and the “Vote or Die” efforts of MTV and secular entertainment artists were in large part offset by the “Redeem the Vote” efforts of Third Day and nearly three dozen other Christian bands who encouraged youth to vote Biblical and moral issues.
State Marriage Initiatives
One indicator that Biblical issues directly affected the election was the state traditional marriage initiatives. The first state to vote on the issue was Missouri (voting three months before the November election). Even though pro-marriage advocates in Missouri were outspent by a margin of 40 to 1, the measure passed with 71% support amidst record voter turnout. Matt Franck of the St. Louis Post Dispatch concluded, “values appeared to beat dollars at the ballot box.”
Ohio next confirmed the voter energy on the marriage issue. With only nine weeks to gather 323,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot, citizens collected 557,000 signatures – and 54,500 Ohio citizens registered to vote simply to voice their support of traditional marriage at the ballot box.
On election night, traditional marriage proposals were on the ballots in 11 states, with almost 20 million Americans voting on the issue. The measures passed in all 11 states by an overall margin of 2-1, with support ranging from a low of 57% support in Oregon (still an impressive number) to an astounding 86% support in Mississippi. The marriage measures even passed by wide margins in blue states won by Kerry; and eight out of eight states also included a ban on civil unions as well as same-sex marriages.
Support for traditional marriage was also a defining issue in several US Senate races – including that of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who was defeated by John Thune (the first time in 52 years that a Senate party leader has lost a reelection bid).
The Pro-Life Vote
The issue of abortion, like that of marriage protection, was another of the key “moral issues” in the election. In fact, 25% of voters said they voted only for pro-life candidates while just 13% said they voted a straight pro-abortion ticket, resulting in a distinct advantage for pro-life candidates.
For example, the Susan B. Anthony List (which endorses only pro-life candidates) placed almost $5 million into pro-life races, while Emily’s List (which endorses only pro-abortion candidates) placed almost $45 million into pro-abortion races. Despite being outspent by more than 8 to 1, 80% of the candidates endorsed by Susan B. Anthony won, compared to only 39% of those endorsed by Emily’s List. Furthermore, Susan B. Anthony candidates defeated six candidates backed by Emily’s List, 15 backed by Planned Parenthood, five by the National Abortion Rights Action League, 11 by the pro-abortion National Organization of Women, and 11 by the pro-abortion Women’s Candidate Fund. Pro-life victories were numerous in Election 2004.
The New Faces Elected
The voters’ support for life, faith, and traditional marriage helped produce an outstanding class of conservative freshmen House and Senate Members. For example, of the nine freshman US Senators, seven are pro-life (all the Republicans). Furthermore, the records of the American Conservative Union (ACU – a group that publishes the voting records of Members of Congress based on their adherence to conservative principles) demonstrate that the freshmen Republicans tend to be much more conservative than the Senators they replaced.
On the Democratic side, the two new freshmen Senators – Barack Obama (IL) and Ken Salazar (CO) – are both pro-abortion and both oppose marriage protection.
Seven New Pro-Life Senators
South Dakota John Thune (former House Member; ACU: 92%) will replace Tom Daschle (ACU: 22%).
South Carolina Jim DeMint (current House Member; ACU: 100%) will replace Fritz Hollings (ACU: 15%).
North Carolina Richard Burr (current House Member; ACU: 96%) will replace John Edwards (ACU: 30%).
Louisiana David Vitter (current House Member; ACU: 100%) will replace John Breaux (ACU: 42%).
Florida Mel Martinez (a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Secretary of hud under President Bush) will replace Bob Graham (ACU: 20%).
Georgia Johnny Isakson (current House Member; ACU: 96%) will replace Zell Miller (ACU: 47%).
Oklahoma Tom Coburn (former House member; ACU: 97%) will replace retiring Don Nickles (ACU rating: 100%).
In the House, there are 40 new freshmen: 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats. Of the 40, 25 are prolife (63%). As in the Senate, the Democratic House Members tend to be pro-abortion and the Republicans pro-life.
A Few of the New Pro-Life Pro-Family Advocates
Geoff Davis Kentucky
Bobby Jindal Louisiana
Virginia Foxx North Carolina
Ted Poe Texas
Louie Gohmert Texas
Mike Sodrel Indiana
Patrick McHenry North Carolina
Kenny Marchant Texas
Bob Inglis South Carolina
Dave Reichert Washington
The US Senate has become significantly more pro-life over the last two elections. (The 2002 and 2004 elections added 19 new Members to the US Senate: 15 Republicans and four Democrats; all 15 Republicans are pro-life, but none of the four Democrats are.) The US House has also become much more pro-life (almost two-thirds of freshmen House Members in the past two elections have been pro-life.)
Post Election Reactions
Since “moral issues” was such a decisive factor in the 2004 election, a predictable post-election reaction includes a deliberate attempt to reshape the universally understood meaning of “moral issues.” For example, the Rev. Robert Edgar (the general secretary of the National Council of Churches and a former Democratic US Congressman) laments: “The religious right has successfully gotten out there shaping personal piety issues – civil unions, abortion – as almost the total content of ‘moral values.’ And yet . . . God doesn’t want 45 million Americans without health care.” Additionally, supporters of same-sex marriage are now asserting that it is “moral” to extend partnership rights to two men or two women who have “committed” themselves to each other; and pro-abortion advocates are now claiming that it is “moral” for a poor mother to have an abortion rather than give birth to a child she might not want. Imagine! Advocating abortion, homosexual marriage, and health care as part of “moral issues”!
Another frequently mentioned “moral value” involves taking care of the poor. As the Rev. Stephen Bouman explains, “One thing Jesus was absolutely clear about was helping the poor.” It is true that the Bible has much to say about helping the poor; but it is also true that the Bible prioritizes certain moral issues. Consider the fact that God took over 600 laws and reduced them into His “Top Ten” commandments. The protection of innocent life does make God’s Top Ten (#6); and the protection of the sanctity of marriage does make God’s Top Ten (#7); however, taking care of the poor does not make God’s Top Ten. Therefore, to elevate that moral issue above where God has elevated it is to usurp His authority and that of His Word.
A Moral Mandate?
Statistical indicators affirm that “moral issues” were indeed a major influence in Election 2004. As Terence Jeffrey of Human Events summarized it, “It’s the culture, stupid! While there were many important issues in this historic election, the single most important one for the largest bloc of voters was not the economy, the Iraq War, or the Terror War. It was the Cultural War. . . . A resolute army of voters . . . marched out in massive numbers to strike a peaceful blow at the ballot box for a traditionalist vision of American society.”
However, citizens must be just as involved after the election as they were during it; the Sen. Arlen Specter incident demonstrates that they are. The day following the election, when even the secular media was acknowledging a moral mandate in the election, pro-abortion Republican Senator Arlen Specter (the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) appeared to issue a thinly veiled warning to the President not to send conservative pro-life judicial nominees before his committee.
Within hours, Senate offices were inundated with thousands of calls, asking Senators to deny Specter the committee chairmanship (some Senators were receiving over 10,000 calls each day). That unorchestrated, spontaneous, and rapid response from citizens had a profound effect inside the Senate.
As a result of the citizen pressure, Senators confronted Specter. Following several closed-door meetings, Specter backtracked and issued a public and a written pledge to support the President’s nominees, help end the filibusters of judges, and move constitutional amendments through his committee, even if he personally disagreed with them (i.e., the Federal Marriage Amendment). This favorable outcome was the result of citizens staying involved after the election, thus ensuring that the message they delivered during the election will be heeded as policy is being made.
The new legislative session is now beginning, and legislators need to hear the same message from citizens that was delivered on November 2nd. Therefore, be active in contacting your elected officials! (If you do not know who your Congressman is, go to www.wallbuilders.com and click on “Find Your Congressman.”)
The War in Iraq
With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence . . . ” This phrase was more than just rhetoric in the Founding Era; it reflected Americans’ awareness of their complete dependence upon God, for in early America, death was an ever-present reality. In fact, with the high mortality rates, the average lifespan at that time was only 35 years. Children succumbed to countless diseases; women frequently died in childbirth; tiny scratches often became infected and resulted in death; fatal epidemics were rampant; and death from a hostile enemy – whether Indians, French, or British – was common. This daily reality of death prompted citizens – especially soldiers – to frequent consideration of their spiritual preparedness
for eternity. In fact, when Virginia soldiers were preparing for the French and Indian War,
Samuel Davies exhorted them:
Fly to Jesus on the wings of faith – all of you. . . . that are now about generously to risk your lives for your country. . . . What can do you a lasting injury while you have a reconciled God smiling upon you from on high, a peaceful conscience animating you within, and a happy immortality just before you?
Two decades later, signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon issued a similar admonition to soldiers in the American Revolution:
[T]here is no soldier so undaunted as the pious man – no army so formidable as those who are superior to the fear of death. There is nothing more awful to think of than that those whose trade is war should . . . expose themselves to the imminent danger of being [sent] to the blaspheming rage and despairing horror of the infernal pit. Let therefore everyone who . . . offers himself as a champion in his country’s cause be persuaded to reverence the name and walk in the fear of the Prince of the kings of the earth and then he may with the most unshaken firmness expect [God’s protection] either in victory or death.
This message is no less applicable for American troops today in Iraq. In fact, a French journalist who witnessed a group of US Marines holding a worship service shortly before entering the deadly hotbed terrorist city of Fallujah reported:
Men with buzz cuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles laying beside them, and chanted . . . lyrics in praise of Christ. . . . The US military . . . has deep Christian roots. In times that fighting looms, many soldiers draw on their evangelical or born-again heritage to help them face the battle. . . . [After reading Scriptures], the marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them. . . . The crowd then followed him outside their small auditorium for a baptism of about a half-dozen marines who had just found Christ. . . . [They] laid down in a rubber dinghy filled with water and the chaplain plunged their heads beneath the surface. “I just wanted to make sure I did this before I headed into the fight,” said one of the young men. . . . “Sometimes, all you’ve got is God.”
Let’s remember to pray not only for our leaders and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-2) but also for our troops – for the chaplains as they minister to the soldiers and for our soldiers as they face death from terrorist guns and bombs.
“God is our refuge and strength, a
very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“He teacheth my hands to war.” Psalm 18:34
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