On Hardball, Time's Duffy said Dems have alienated religious voters for the last 25 years

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

On Hardball, Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy asserted that "for the last 25 years, Democrats have done everything they can to alienate religious voters, faith-minded voters" and that "[t]hey did it to woo a secular left that they thought didn't want to have anything to do with that." But given that some 90 percent of Americans say that they believe in God (according to polling, which has been consistent over many years), and given that in the last 25 years, Americans have elected a Democrat to two presidential terms, and a second won the popular vote, a substantial number of religious voters must be voting for Democrats.

On the August 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, during a discussion of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s (D-DE) recent comment that past Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry "let themselves be portrayed as anti-God," host Chris Matthews characterized Biden as saying that Gore and Kerry "created an image that they were somehow ... not really religious people. They don't share your evangelical views and your deeply religious views. They're too secular." In response, Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy asserted that "for the last 25 years, Democrats have done everything they can to alienate religious voters, faith-minded voters" and that "it seemed to be part of the program. They did it to woo a secular left that they thought didn't want to have anything to do with that." But given that some 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God (according to polling, which has been consistent over many years), and given that in the last 25 years, Americans have elected a Democrat to two presidential terms, and a second won the popular vote, a substantial number of religious voters must be voting for Democrats.

Moreover, while white Protestants have voted for Republicans in greater numbers in recent elections, Americans of other religions have supported Democrats. According to national exit-polling data on CNN.com, in the 2006 midterm elections, 61 percent of white Protestants voted Republican, while 37 percent voted Democratic. But according to the polling, 55 percent of Catholic voters and 87 percent of Jewish voters voted for Democrats in 2006. In the 2004 presidential election, national exit polling found that 47 percent of Catholic voters and 74 percent of Jewish voters voted for Democrats; exit polling in 2000 found that 50 percent of Catholic voters and 79 percent of Jewish voters voted for Gore. In 1996, 53 percent of Catholic voters and 78 percent of Jewish voters voted for Bill Clinton. Among black Protestants, 91 percent of black Protestant voters voted for Democrats in 2006, according to exit polls cited by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Pew also reported that in 2006, 71 percent of voters from faiths other than Protestantism, Catholicism, or Judaism, voted Democratic. Moreover, according to Pew, Democratic support among white Protestants has increased in the last two election cycles: from 30 percent in 2002 to 34 percent in 2004 to 37 percent in 2006.

From the August 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Well, under the "equal whack for both parties" rule of this show, let's go to the Democrats. Joe Biden, who tends to be very honest -- whatever you think of him as the next president, although I think he's a fine guy -- he very clearly said the other day, yesterday, that the people like Al Gore and John Kerry, the last two Democratic candidates for president, said -- created an image that they were somehow -- we're looking at it right now -- that if they were -- as he put it, when they're sitting next to the pew, that maybe he really doesn't respect your view. In other words, they're not really religious people. They don't share your evangelical views and your deeply religious views. They're too secular.

DUFFY: Yeah. Well, I think, for the last 25 years, Democrats have done everything they can to alienate religious voters, faith-minded voters, and the --

MATTHEWS: Not a smart move politically.

DUFFY: Oh, no. And it seemed to be part of the program. They did it to woo a secular left that they thought didn't want to have anything to do with that.

MATTHEWS: Was turned off by the religious people, yeah.

DUFFY: Starting with Jimmy Carter and the --

MATTHEWS: I hear it. I've heard --

DUFFY: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: -- years of people --

DUFFY: Right. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: -- making fun of Jimmy -- [the Rev.] Jerry Falwell and people like that, but you knew it was a broader brush than that.

DUFFY: Of course.

MATTHEWS: They were really making fun of the people in the churches, in the tents, in the megachurches.

DUFFY: Right. It was a really stupid thing to do -- and they have begun to realize that.

MATTHEWS: Elitism doesn't really work in politics, does it?

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Michael Duffy
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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