Mitt Romney is continuing to attempt to create an heir of inevitability in the republican presidential primary race. But let us be clear, like it or not, the largest demographic in the republican party—Evangelical Christians, are not going to widely support Romney. I am sure people will comment that, “I am an evangelical and I will vote for Romney because nothing is worst than another Obama term.” But politically active Redstate.com evangelicals are not the voters I am talking about. I am talking about the evangelicals who are going to start paying attention next year. Even evangelicals that will vote for Romney, will not campaign for him. He is a man without a grassroots network.
Karl Rove, one of the greatest political minds of the modern era won the 2004 presidential election with the “base” strategy. Established wisdom told us to go after the middle of the electorate. Bush did it in 2000 and barely won Florida. In 2004, Karl Rove realized that there was such a huge part of the electorate that was evangelicals that all Bush really had to do was get them to the polls. Bush won in 2004 overwhelmingly. Romney cannot use the Rove strategy. And he needs it because isn’t going to get the tea party or grassroots either. Donors can only do so much. You need a grassroots network.
26% of Bush’s support was Evangelicals in 2004! Add in an additional, 20% of Bush’s support that was heartland cultural conservatives. This is made up of Catholics and mainstream protestants that are outside of evangelicals circles, Romney would be lucky to get 2/3rds of these voters.
Like it or not, there are two reasons why: his (1) anti-evangelical record and his (2) religion. Most importantly, Romney’s views and record will hurt him. This isn’t mainly a religion thing, it isn’t a Massachusetts’s thing, it is a “you did things as governor that were the antithesis of what we stand for and believe in” thing.
1.) Abortion. I will not even delve deeply into Romney’s convenient pro-life/pro-choice/pro-life views in the past. This is a well worn path. Romney became pro-life right before he ran for president and he STILL promised to uphold abortion laws in Massachusetts AFTER he became pro-life. If you believe in protecting life at all costs, you are pro-life. If you can be seen on youtube campaigning for the pro-choice position, refuse to use the 14th Amendment’s promise to protect all human life with due process, would not overturn Roe v. Wade and believe that abortion is ok in cases of rape and incest, you are not pro-life. You are pro-choice. You believe that there are times to choose life and you believe there are times to choose abortion. Here alone, you lose the evangelical vote.
2.) School Choice. It is no secret than evangelicals are unhappy that they are forced to pay for government schools while God is forced out. We want school vouchers and we want it yesterday. Mitt Romney was FOR school vouchers in his race against Ted Kennedy in 1994 before he was AGAINST them in 2002. Where is he at now? I couldn’t tell you. Wherever the polls lead is where you’ll find Romney’s position. But our kids can’t survive an anti-voucher president against after Barack Obama has tried to strip the existing voucher systems away.
3.) Gay Marriage. After Massachusetts’ Supreme Court mandated that the state be the FIRST STATE (Commonwealth) IN THE NATION to support gay marriage, Romney refused to support conservative attempts to pass a constitutional marriage amendment as over 30 states have! Here alone, he loses evangelicals.
When the path is hard, Romney is not with us.
4.) Romneycare. Evangelicals value personal responsibility and charity through the church. Most are struggling and view debt as a negative virtue of government. They do not approve of unnecessary government programs stepping on the toes of the Church and the Church’s role in helping the poor. Romney disagrees and implemented an individual mandate in Massachusetts.
5.) Evolution. Mitt Romney is in favor of teaching Evolution alone in our schools. This is a non-starter with evangelicals.
6.) Climate Change. The majority of Evangelicals do not believe in global warming or that it is human caused. Whether it is or not, Romney believes that it is. That is a problem.
7.) Religion. Yes, Romney’s religion is a problem. I realize that many people outside of the Church don’t believe that we should consider a candidate’s religious values when considering whether we want to follow their lead, but evangelicals don’t agree. You may think it’s stupid, but they don’t and they vote.
In the last debate, Romney tried to invoke the First Amendment’s freedom of religion to say that there is no religious “litmus test.” The First Amendment prevents government from telling voters what religion they should be. The First Amendment does NOT prevent voters from considering whether a candidate has religious views they are comfortable with.
Why should we consider their background, get to know their spouse, make them fill out a questionnaire, ask them their philosophy on spending, war and domestic policy but not care who they worship and take advice from. Was it relevant that Obama went to a racist Church for 20 years? Of course it was. It tells us what drives him and what kind of person he is.
Mormons are fine people and they add value to our society but they aren’t part of the evangelical Christian Church. Many Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that if you are a good enough person you become a god and receive your own planet to repopulate. Many people are uncomfortable with Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith and his life of polygamy, racism, and child molestation. Mormonism isn’t a non-starter but it raises legitimate questions.
When you read George W. Bush’s excellent memoir, Decision Points, he shares how much his faith in God and prayers helped him to be the great leader he was after 9/11. Evangelicals believe that a relationship with the God of the Bible is an important virtue to be desired in a candidate.
Romney will divide us.
Romney does not unite the base, he divides it. If Romney only had the religion problem, he could make it through with enough evangelical support to win, but his record, his words and his life demonstrate that he is not with us on the issues we care about.
It is not that these voters will vote for Obama, but it has only been the last 30 years where Christians have been engaging in politics. It started with the decision of Roe. The Church didn’t wake up and decide they wanted to vote Republican, they focused on certain values that were important to them. I am afraid that too many republican strategists take these votes for granted. These people have jobs and kids and they do not have to vote.
Conservative political buffs often believe that nothing is more important that getting rid of Obama. Evangelicals believe that the affairs of this world are in God’s capable hands and do not always feel the same obligation to vote for a Republican. They shouldn’t be taken for granted. Romney cannot win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Florida without exciting the evangelical base. They aren’t excited. In a swing state you need someone with a conservative enough record to get conservatives on board, with gentle rhetoric in the general to rally independents. Romney doesn’t have the record to to dthat.
If Romney is our candidate, he will be unable to truly unite the base and will likely end up losing Florida and Pennsylvania. Moderates don’t win. Ask George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole or John McCain. Reagan had two terms. Bush had two terms. Give us some one we can believe in and you will have a two-term president.