Conservative columnist Rod Dreher has a very interesting post about the success that Democrats are having attracting Evangelicals voters:
Finally, the Democratic Party has a shot at winning a significant number of Evangelical votes, and Democratic leaders are seriously courting religious conservatives:Such efforts, along with general disillusionment with Bush, may have already paid off. According to a Pew Research Center survey in February, support for Democratic candidates among white evangelicals under 30 jumped from 16 to 26 percent between the 2004 and 2006 elections. Some evangelical leaders now say they're tired of being viewed as an appendage of the GOP, or any other party. "We want to be viewed as we are—people of faith—not a political bloc," says Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
That's probably smart politics, for the same reason it would be smarter of, say, African-Americans to be more open to appeals from Republicans. At The Corner, Yuval Levin makes the sensible point that many religious conservatives have not been totally on board with the GOP's economic stances, but have considered social issues more important over the years. If the GOP nominates a social liberal like Rudy Giuliani, it might squander any advantage it would have with religious-conservative voters over a generic Democratic candidate.
I don't see the Democrats becoming the party of Evangelicals anytime soon. But they could easily split this cornerstone of the Republican coalition.
Read it here.
The separation of political party and faith is a good thing--if both the secular and religious vote is divided between the voters, the theocratic impulse is diffuse. I think that the reason for the success is not that the Democrats have softened their position on issues like abortion or gay rights (that has not happened), but because they appeal to some (certainly not all or even a majority) of Evangelical voters on other issues such as the War, healthcare and the environment.