Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

Obama: a Religious Democrat

March 19, 2008

Everyone knows by now that Barack Obama gave an important speech on race yesterday in Philadelphia that was widely praised.  He spoke about the origins of racial tension in America from its roots in slavery to the modern day.  While condemning the anti-American comments of his former pastor, Reverend Wright, he also explained why older African Americans feel anger and resentment toward White America.  But he went beyond that to also talk about why White Americans, especially immigrants, often feel similar anger and resentment toward the African American community when their children are bussed to desegregated schools or they see black people get jobs through affirmative action.

I believe that an important aspect of his speech was overlooked by most analysts.  Senator Obama made it very clear that he is a religious Christian who believes in God.  He did this both by describing his 20 years as a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ and his discovery of his “Christian faith” in that Church and by proclaiming his “faith in God”.  He also quoted scripture, urging “that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper.  Let us be our sister’s keeper.”  This is important because recent Democrats who ran for President have generally spoken very little about their religious faith, especially in comparison to Republicans.  Things have been so lopsided that the Republican Party has often appeared to be the party of religious Americans.  In particular, frequent attention is given to the strong support of evangelical Christians for the Republican Party and for George W. Bush in particular.  In contrast, the Democratic Party is often portrayed as the party of the secular elite of the East and West coasts.

In fact, a very good Time Magazine article from 7/12/2007 called “How the Democrats Got Religion” indicated that the Democratic Party largely ignored religion in the 2004 race but was making efforts to reach religious voters in this election.  Speaking about John Kerry, the article stated: “When it came to religious voters, as the saying goes, he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”  The result was that Kerry only won 17% of evangelical voters compared to Bill Clinton’s 33%.  The chairman of the DNC, Howard Dean, who had also ignored religious voters during his aborted campaign, subsequently tried to improve the party’s standing with religious voters.  He and other party officials including Nancy Pelosi began reaching out to moderate church leaders in 2005.

Obama’s speech yesterday was certainly not the first time that he has mentioned his faith in God and the importance of his religion and church to him.  In fact, other Democratic candidates including both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have also talked about their faith and reached out to religious organizations during the past year.  But Obama’s speech appears to be the first time this election cycle that a Democrat spoke about his or her faith and religion in a major speech that received a large amount of media coverage.  While religion was not the focus of his speech, it lurked in the background throughout it since he would not have been giving this speech if he had not been a long-term member of Reverend Wright’s church.

Of course, the Republicans have never really had a monopoly on religious voters.  Most African Americans are quite religious and have strongly backed the Democratic Party in modern times.  Many other religious voters also vote for Democrats.  In fact, the Time article quoted John C. Green of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life as saying that the percentage of white Evangelicals who identify themselves Republicans had declined to 40% by July, 2007 with many Evangelicals declaring themselves Independents.  Even in 2004, the percentage was only 50%, so some Evangelicals presumably voted for Democrats in 2004 and prior elections.  The perception that the Republicans had a lock on white Evangelicals was probably exaggerated.

In any case, both parties clearly do have religious members.  If Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party continue to embrace their religion and faith and argue that the liberal policies of their party are actually in conformance with Judeo-Christian ethics and teachings, they will get more support from religious voters of all races and increase their chance of winning the White House in November.

Rush Limbaugh Failed to Get Texas Republicans to Vote for Clinton

March 5, 2008

Rush Limbaugh urged Texas Republicans to vote for Clinton in yesterday’s primary on recent episodes of his radio show.  He even claimed today that his plan had succeeded.  But what did the Texas exit polls show?  According to CNN, Republicans made up 9% of the voters in the Texas primary.  (66% were Democrats and 25% were Independents.) These Republicans actually favored Obama 53% to 46%, an exact mirror of how Texas Democrats voted.  Note that a total of 2.8 million Texans voted in the Democratic primary while only 1.3 million Texans voted in the Republican primary.  The percentages of voters in the Republican primary were 78% Republican, 21% Independent, and 2% Democrats.

These numbers  indicate that 1,014,000 Republicans voted in the Republican primary while 252,000 Republicans voted in the Democratic primary.  This implies that 20% of the Republicans voted in the Democratic primary in Texas.  But only 46% of these Republicans voted for Clinton; so, at most 9% of Republicans actually followed Rush’s advice to vote for Clinton.  (I say “at most” since some of these might have voted for Clinton anyway.)

So, despite his claims of success with his anti-Obama tactic, Rush failed.  His conservative fans might laugh at his antics, but they either knew it was all a joke and didn’t take it seriously or were just too lazy to get out and actually vote for Clinton.

Note that the composition of the voters in the Ohio Democratic primary was quite similar to the Texas Democratic primary: 69% Democrats, 22% Independents, and 9% Republicans.  The Republicans split their vote 49% to 49% between the two Democrats.   The composition of voters in the Rhode Island Democratic Primary was 64% Democrats,  32% Independents, and 3% Republicans.  The composition of voters in the Vermont Democratic Primary was 55% Democrats, 38% Independents, and 6% Republicans.  So, the percentage of Republicans amongst all voters who voted in the Texas Democratic primary last night was not higher than in the other states.

Obama Endorsed by 10 of 11 CA Newspapers

February 5, 2008

An article by Donald Lathbury on The California Majority Report website pointed out that 10 of the largest 11 newspapers in California endorsed* Barack Obama.  The one holdout was the San Diego Union Tribune, which had not yet made an endorsement before Super Tuesday.  No big newspapers in California endorsed Hillary Clinton.

California newspapers which endorsed Obama (in order of circulation from largest to smallest) were: the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Orange County Register, the Sacramento Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, the Riverside Press Enterprise, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Fresno Bee,  and La Opinión.  The last is the largest Spanish language newspaper in California and could give Obama a boost amongst Latino voters in its home town, Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times concluded its endorsement with the following eloquent metaphor: “Clinton is an essay, solid and reasoned; Obama is a poem, lyric and filled with possibility.”

*The Orange County Register did not actually endorse Obama, but did give him a much more favorable assessement than the one it gave Hillary Clinton.