The religious right took a drubbing at the polls yesterday as voters rejected not only Mitt Romney but also some of the most extreme Republican candidates, even those in races that should have been easy Republican victories. Like other conservatives, many religious-right activists predicted a big victory for Romney and Republicans in the U.S. Senate, based on five myths they hold about the electorate:
Myth #1: Americans want a ‘True Conservative’
The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody called the results a “nightmare for the GOP” and a “colossal disaster.” Of course, right-wing activists will be quick to declare that Mitt Romney, like John McCain, wasn’t conservative enough for voters, and that the self-described “severely conservative” Romney couldn’t effectively articulate or sell conservative principles. Their solution is that the next nominee must be a pure right-wing ideologue who emphasizes social issues, like Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum. Of course, if voters were seeking to support ultraconservative politicians, then Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock wouldn’t have lost their Senate races in the red states of Missouri and Indiana, Tea Party hero Allen West wouldn’t have lost re-election and Michele Bachmann wouldn’t have merely eked out a tiny win in her heavily Republican district.
Myth #2: Blacks will Defect from Obama over Gay Rights
Black conservative activists such as Harry Jackson, E.W. Jackson, William Owens, Patrick Wooden and Star Parker continue to tell the largely white religious right leadership that African Americans are defecting en masse from the purportedly demonic, Baal worshiping, anti-Christian and anti-God Democratic Party and will turn against Obama over the issue of marriage equality. Pat Robertson even said that Democratic support for marriage equality is a “death wish” and Mike Huckabee said the move “may end up sinking the ship.” According to exit polls, however, Obama won African Americans 93-6 percent. African Americans also turned out in strong numbers and didn’t stay home, with the same high turnout rate (13 percent of all voters) as 2008. In addition, marriage equality had victories in the four states it was on the ballot.
Myth #3: Hispanics are ‘Natural Allies’ of the Religious Right
Conservatives claimed that Hispanic voters, especially those who identify as evangelical and Pentecostal, are ripe for supporting Republicans. Samuel Rodriguez of the conservative National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and others continue to argue that Hispanics are strongly opposed to abortion rights (not true) and gay rights (also not true), and therefore “natural allies” of the religious right. Romney actually fared worse (27 percent) than McCain (31 percent) among Hispanics.
Myth #4: Catholics Abandoning Obama for ‘Declaring War’ on the Church
Heavy politicking from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and growing outreach to Catholics by traditionally evangelical religious right groups didn’t stop Obama from once again carrying the Catholic vote. Republicans consistently claimed that Obama declared “war on religion” and specifically “attacking the Catholic Church,” and hoped Paul Ryan’s use of Catholicism to justify his draconian budget plan would bring Catholics into the GOP fold. Obama led 50-48 percent in exit polls, down slightly from his 54 percent total in 2008.
Myth #5: Evangelical Wave Waiting in the Wings
New groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition and United in Purpose/Champion the Vote boasted of grand plans to turn out a wave of evangelical Christians upset about health care reform and marriage equality. But according to exits, Protestant (not all of whom identify as evangelical) turnout remained about the same this year (53 percent) as the last president election (54 percent). Christianity Today notes that in swing states, self-described evangelical turnout was approximately identical or merely slightly larger as it was in 2008, and Romney’s support among evangelicals compared to McCain’s decreased in states like Ohio and Nevada.
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