USA Today labeled conservative evangelical Huckabee supporters as "value voters"

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

Repeating the myth that social conservatives are the only political constituency that votes its "values," the January 24 USA Today twice referred to voters most inclined to support Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as "values voters." A front-page graphic claimed "Huckabee: Has drawn evangelicals and 'values voters,' " while an accompanying article noted that "Huckabee's strength is among just those kind of 'values voters' " who are "uncomfortable" with Rudy Giuliani.

In its January 24 edition, USA Today twice referred to voters most inclined to support Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as "values voters." A front-page graphic claimed "Huckabee: Has drawn evangelicals and 'values voters,' " while Washington bureau chief Susan Page, in an accompanying article, wrote that "many conservative Christians are uncomfortable with [former New York Mayor Rudy] Giuliani's support of abortion rights and his personal life," adding later, "Huckabee's strength is among just those kind of 'values voters.' " As Media Matters for America has documented, media outlets have repeatedly advanced the myth that social conservatives are the only political constituency that votes its "values."

On May 18, 2006, conservative columnist George F. Will criticized the media's use of the term "values voters" to refer to social conservatives in a Washington Post column titled "Who Isn't a 'Values Voter'?" Will wrote that "[t]his phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to ... well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots."

From the front page of the January 24 edition of USA Today:

huckabee

From the January 24 USA Today article:

The coalition Giuliani would put together would be more moderate, more Northern and more suburban than the one that elected and re-elected Bush.

On the other hand, many conservative Christians are uncomfortable with Giuliani's support of abortion rights and his personal life, which includes three marriages and a highly publicized affair. Richard Land, head of the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, says he personally wouldn't vote for Giuliani and predicts his nomination would spark a third-party bid by an anti-abortion candidate who would "get more support than some people think."

That could imperil the GOP's hold on Missouri and other states generally counted as Republican.

  • Huckabee's strength is among just those kind of "values voters." They delivered his victory in the Iowa caucuses and his second-place finish in South Carolina. The former Arkansas governor carried evangelicals by 40%-27% over McCain in the Palmetto State, according to surveys of voters as they left polling places, but finished a distant fourth among non-evangelical voters.

He could count on support across the Republican base in the South, and his populist message might resonate with economically pressed voters in the Midwest. His heartland-based coalition would be more rural and more blue-collar than the current GOP.

Critics question whether he could win outside the South, though. He's drawn fire from some economic conservatives. "He simply has no credibility and really no support outside the evangelical movement," says Pat Toomey of the conservative Club for Growth, which aired TV ads in Iowa blasting Huckabee for raising taxes.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
USA Today
Person
Susan Page
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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