Republican Moral DivideJun 19, 2008
A quick look at Barak Obama's campaign web site finds several references to faith and values. Unfortnately, there doesn't appear to be any such reference on John McCain's site. This, while a new Gallop poll indicates that Republican voters are growing more concerned over the state of the nation's moral values. In just two years, the percent of registered Republicans who said the moral condition of American is "poor" has risen by 15 points. Today, 51 percent of the GOP is frustrated with the nation's moral climate, compared to 36 percent two years ago.
So, Republican voters appear to be more concerned about traditional values — not less. As such, these voters are more likely to seek out candidates who they believe share their concerns. Apparently, McCain and his advisors still don't get it.
And its not just Republican voters with concerns. Since 2002, Republicans, Democrats and Independents have grown more pessimistic about the nation's moral direction. In fact, 81 percent believe the nation's moral state is "getting worse."
So, in that context, how smart is it for McCain and other Republicans to avoid talking about moral issues? While their campaign consultants may convince candidates to avoid all talk about marriage and abortion, that appears to be exactly what the voters (and activists) want them talking about.
Don't get me wrong. Candidates can't talk only about moral issues. They have to address rising gas prices, the economy, Iraq, terrorism, etc. But they can't completely avoid moral issues either.
The message to Republican candidates is clear — avoid these issues at your peril. Don't expect the activists and voters who got you into office to be energized if you refuse to even mention the issues they care about.