by Steven Ertelt
December 13, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The leading possible Democratic presidential candidates for 2008 are looking to use religious outreach as a way of siphoning pro-life voters from the Republican Party. They are relying on methods used in the 2006 elections that lured some pro-life evangelical and Catholic voters to support pro-abortion candidates.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, the New York lawmaker widely considered to be the Democrat’s front-runner for the nomination, has hired Burns Strider, a leading party strategist on advising candidates how to reach out to America’s pro-life evangelical voters.
His move to Clinton’s camp suggests that the party will attempt to replicate some of the successes it had in November’s elections in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, key presidential battleground states.
According to a report in The Hill, a newspaper that focuses on Congress, pro-abortion Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won 35 percent of the evangelical vote. In Ohio, pro-abortion Gov.-elect Ted Strickland won 48 percent of that vote and, in Pennsylvania, Sen.-elect Bob Casey won over 29 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of Catholics.
Most 2006 Senate contests featured pro-abortion candidates taking on pro-life advocates, but a further analysis of election polls there and in other states suggests the abortion advocates won because of other political issues.
Other leading candidates are attempting to make inroads into the conservative Christian and Catholic voting blocks as well.
Sen. Barack Obama, an abortion advocate from Illinois, caused national controversy when he spoke at an AIDS conference at an influential California church.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, meanwhile, has named Shaun Casey, an associate professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, as his top religious outreach advisor.
The moves point to the need for the pro-life community to shore up its support from Catholic and evangelical Christian voters.
Polls frequently show those voting groups as the most strongly pro-life and, should Republicans nominate a pro-abortion candidate like Rudy Giuliani or someone such as John McCain, who is somewhat weak on pro-life issues, the GOP could see more voters shift to a Democratic candidate who focuses on appealing to them on other political topics.
However, if there is a typical presidential matchup between a strongly pro-abortion Democrat and a genuinely pro-life Republican, that still presents an advantage for the pro-life side.
In the 2004 presidential election, Kerry lost to President Bush in 2004 in part because of his pro-abortion views.
A 2004 Wirthlin Worldwide post-election poll found that 42 percent of voters said abortion affected the way they voted for president. Twenty-four percent of voters cast their ballots for President Bush while 15% voted for Kerry, giving Bush a 9 percent advantage on the issue of abortion.
Eight percent of voters in the Wirthlin poll indicated abortion was the "most important" issue affecting their votes and Bush won among those voters by a six to two percent margin, leading Kerry by four percentage points among the most intense abortion voters.
Without that edge, Bush would not likely have own his bid for re-election.