A great battle rages among Democratic political operatives and faith leaders. The question is how (or whether) the Democratic Party should campaign for white evangelicals’ votes, particularly in presidential elections.
Some say, “Yes, of course!” Democrats can appeal to evangelicals because of their arguably more Christian positions on poverty, economic justice, war and peace, international engagement, environmental protection, migration, health care, and so on.
But the fact remains that white evangelicals are a huge and reliable part of the GOP’s electoral coalition. But the Republican Party portrays itself as more hospitable to religiosity and religious freedom. Recent efforts to make evangelicals defect from the pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage party have generally failed. Why alienate reliable voters to entice unlikely ones?
There are sensible arguments for both views. It is difficult to estimate or quantify the costs and benefits of each approach.
And, of course, there is the Trump factor. Does Trump make the GOP more or less attractive to evangelicals? And does he give the Democrats a better chance to pick up white evangelical voters, or are #NeverTrump evangelicals just going to stay home?
In upcoming posts, I’ll analyze and discuss the arguments for and against Democrats making a deliberate, coordinated appeal to theologically conservative evangelicals.